LSU, Wade set first meeting since coach’s suspension
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU senior associate athletic director Robert Munson says LSU and suspended basketball coach Will Wade have set a meeting for Friday that will include NCAA compliance officials.
The meeting will mark the first meaningful face-to-face communication between all parties since LSU suspended Wade for initially refusing to meet with school officials on March 8.
LSU Senior Associate Athletic Director Robert Munson says “university officials have made clear their expectation for full cooperation and transparency” in what Munson calls a “first step in a process toward resolution.”
A quick resolution is not expected, but LSU does have an interest in expediting the process as much as possible in order to get recruiting back on track for a program that has recently lost four prominent players to the NBA draft: freshman forward Naz Reid, sophomore guard Tremont Waters, senior guard Skyler Mays and freshman guard Javonte Smart.
The suspension of the 36-year-old Wade, who coached LSU to one of the better seasons in program history, came on the heels of a Yahoo report about leaked excerpts of an FBI wiretap that captured Wade speaking with a person convicted funneling illegal payments to the families of college basketball recruits.
In transcripts of the phone call, Wade discussed presenting a “strong” offer to an apparent third-party who represented Smart.
It was not clear from the leaked transcripts whether Wade in fact violated NCAA rules or if Smart knew about the offer.
After being held out for LSU’s regular season finale, Smart was cleared to play in the SEC and NCAA tournaments. Wade, meanwhile, was replaced for the regular season finale and the postseason on an interim basis by assistant Tony Benford.
LSU, which won the SEC regular season championship, lost in the third round of the conference tournament against Florida after receiving a double bye. The Tigers then advanced past the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament before falling to eventual Final Four participant Michigan State. LSU finished 28-7, tying the 2000 Tigers for the second most single-season victories in program history — behind only the 1981 Final Four team that went 31-5.
Wade is being represented by Chicago-based attorney Steven Thompson, who has represented universities, coaches, athletes and governing bodies in matters before the NCAA and the USOC. His clients have included Arizona coach Sean Miller and Auburn coach Bruce Pearl.