Report: NCAA says Will Wade arranged for or offered impermissible payments

PHOTO by Terrill Weil

Mark Schlabach of ESPN reported Wednesday from documents obtained by ESPN that the NCAA enforcement staff has received information LSU men’s basketball coach Will Wade either arranged for or offered impermissible payments.

The documents said the NCAA’s enforcement staff said Wade “arranged for, offered and/or provided impermissible payments, including cash payments, to at least 11 men’s basketball prospective student-athletes, their family members, individuals associated with the prospects and/or nonscholastic coaches in exchange for the prospects’ enrollment at LSU.”

The allegations were in the NCAA enforcement staff’s request that its infractions case involving the LSU men’s basketball program be adjudicated through the Independent Accountability Resolution Process, which was created to handle complex cases.

Under two amendments Wade agreed LSU add to his contract in order to get reinstated in April 2019 after being suspended for the last five games of the 2018-19 season, LSU can fire Wade for cause if he is found to have committed Level I or Level II NCAA violations, or if the NCAA infractions committee issues a formal notice of Level 1 or Level 2 violations to LSU involving the coach. 

He also agreed to forfeit a $250,000 performance bonus for the 2018-19 season and not to sue the university if he’s fired with cause.

In a July 15 letter, NCAA vice president of enforcement Jonathan Duncan wrote in a July 15 letter the case has five of the seven factors for referring the case to the IARP.

“Many of those factors are triggered by the actions of Will Wade, head men’s basketball coach at Louisiana State University,” Duncan wrote. “Some of his underlying actions gave rise to this case and his tactics during the investigation have delayed resolution dramatically. He is employed in a leadership position at LSU, yet the institution has been unable to secure his full cooperation and is accountable for his behavior.”

Wade has been under fire since March 2019 when Yahoo Sports reported he was heard on an FBI wiretap with Christian Dawkins, a former runner for an NBA agent and aspiring business manager, in which Wade discussed the offer to sign coveted guard Javonte Smart. The conversation was telecast in an HBO documentary in March.

Wade, who was suspended and then reinstated after those reports, denied doing business for players with Dawkins.

In response to an open records request from ESPN, LSU officials said in February that the university had not received a notice of inquiry or notice of allegations from the NCAA. Sources previously told ESPN that LSU was among a handful of schools being investigated for potential rules violations in their basketball programs.

Despite the NCAA cloud hanging over the program, Wade has continued to recruit well. His recruiting class of 2020 is ranked No. 6 nationally by 247 Sports and No. 8 by Rivals. His 2021 class which has three commitments is ranked 14th by Rivals and No. 21 by 247Sports.

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