NCAA: LSU's Will Wade Linked to Impermissible Payments to at Least 11 Recruits

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2020

LSU coach Will Wade on the sidelines against Arkansas during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
Michael Woods/Associated Press

LSU head basketball coach Will Wade reportedly made or proposed "impermissible payments" to at least 11 potential Tigers recruits based on information received by the NCAA.

ESPN's Mark Schlabach reported Wednesday that NCAA enforcement staff documents allege 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."

Wade was suspended by LSU in March 2019 after Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde, Pete Thamel and Dan Wetzel reported on a recorded phone conversation between the Tigers coach and Christian Dawkins about a "strong-ass offer" made to a recruit.

He was reinstated one month later.

"I would like to express my appreciation," Wade said in a statement. "... And I sincerely apologize to the university and our fans for the disruption to the university and the program."

The reinstatement included adjustments to his contract with the school, including the ability for LSU to fire him with cause if he was later found to have committed Level I or Level II violations by the NCAA, per Schlabach.

NCAA vice president of enforcement Jonathan Duncan wrote a letter July 15 in an effort to transfer the case to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process for a final decision, according to the ESPN report:

"Many of those factors are triggered by the actions of Will Wade, head men's basketball coach at Louisiana State University. 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 guided LSU to a 67-32 record since taking over the program in 2017. He previously served as the head coach at Chattanooga and VCU. His teams have compiled a 158-77 overall mark with three NCAA tournament appearances in seven years.

The Tigers were on track to earn a March Madness berth this past season before the event was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.