LSU head coach Will Wade makes statement following suspension
BATON ROUGE- Will Wade has spoken out following his suspension from LSU. The suspended head coach tells WBRZ that he cannot comment on the reports, but they do not tell the whole story:
"Serving as the Head Basketball Coach at LSU has been the honor of my life. I love this university and all it stands for. From day one, I’ve been focused on building a winning program made up of excellent coaches and staff and a team of first-rate student athletes.
I cannot comment at this time on various media reports, except to say that they do not begin to tell the full story. I understand the University had to take action before all the facts are in, but I would ask everyone to withhold their judgment until the record is complete.
To my players and coaches, I support you 100%, and I will be with you in spirit as the season progresses. Your best response to this is to narrow your focus and make sure the last part of the season is the strongest part!"
According to LSU, coach Will Wade has been suspended indefinitely following media reports of a wiretap investigation.
LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander and Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Joe Alleva released the following statement Friday:
“Recent media reports regarding Coach Will Wade are without question concerning to all of us. As such, we and university officials have taken deliberate and purposeful steps to fairly assess and adequately address this situation. As we have done since media reports first surfaced months ago, we are closely coordinating with the NCAA with every step. They have our full cooperation and we will continue to report to them all facts and information on this matter.
All of us at LSU share the obligation to protect the integrity of this institution, as such we have suspended Head Coach Will Wade indefinitely until such time as we can ensure full compliance with the NCAA, as well as institutional policies and standards. Assistant coach Tony Benford will assume the duties of interim head coach.”
A 2017 phone conversation between LSU basketball coach Will Wade and a middleman tied up in allegations of illegal recruiting tactics features Wade discussing a "strong-ass offer" he made in the recruitment of a prospect, Yahoo Sports reports.
The call between Wade and Christian Dawkins was reportedly intercepted by the FBI and includes a frustrated Wade complaining that another party affiliated with the recruitment had not accepted his "offer." According to the Yahoo report, Wade theorized a verbal commitment to LSU was being delayed because he hadn't given that third party a big “enough piece of the pie in the deal” and instead “tilted” the offer toward the player and his mother.
“I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m [expletive] tired of dealing with the thing. Like I’m just [expletive] sick of dealing with the [expletive]. Like, this should not be that [expletive] complicated.”
There was no explanation of what the "Smart thing" is, though Javonte Smart is currently a freshman guard at LSU and formerly a top-50 recruit from Baton Rouge.
Wade declined to comment on the story Thursday afternoon, saying he hadn't yet seen it.
LSU head coach Will Wade was talking to fans today at a luncheon when the Yahoo Sports report broke regarding further phone calls with Chris Dawkins that the FBI is investigating. We spoke with him immediately after and here's what he said. #LSU pic.twitter.com/b0vZ003wNi— Michael Cauble (@Cauble) March 7, 2019
Dawkins is known to have been on FBI wiretaps during the late spring and summer of 2017. Previous reports from ESPN cited that Dawkins made at least three calls to a cellphone number belonging in June 2017. Smart announced his commitment to LSU on June 30.
The tapes don't mention any specifics of the "offer" or if it violated NCAA rules.
Defense attorneys are in the process of formally filing subpoenas for both Wade and Arizona coach Sean Miller to testify for the defense at the second trial Dawkins. The defense will try to show through wiretapped phone calls and direct testimony from the coaches that Dawkins and another associate were not attempting to bribe the coaches to gain an inside track on signing their NBA-bound talent.
You can read the full Yahoo Sports report here.
SEC Commissioner Greg Stanley committed on the suspension stating he agrees with the decision. He said the reports are disturbing, but the SEC plans to do whatever they can to help.