Big news from Baton Rouge on Sunday night as LSU announced it has reinstated basketball coach Will Wade.
Wade, who had been suspended since early March after Yahoo Sports reported that the coach had been caught on a wiretap discussing an alleged offer made to recruit Javonte Smart, met with LSU and NCAA officials on Friday.
LSU AD Joe Alleva said in a statement that Wade answered “all questions and denied any wrongdoing in connection with the recently reported allegations of irregularities in college basketball recruiting.”
Alleva said that by fulfilling his obligation to meet with the school, and without evidence of wrongdoing by Wade, the coach has been allowed to return to his job.
“I would like to express my appreciation,” said Wade in a statement released by the school. “And I sincerely apologize to the university and out fans for the disruption to the university and the program.”
Wade was suspended March 8 when he failed to meet with university officials after the Yahoo story broke. He missed the final game of the regular season as well as the SEC and NCAA tournaments. Coached by assistant Tony Benford, LSU lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament and the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
LSU won the SEC regular-season title with a 16-2 record and finished 28-7 overall. Several Tigers have announced their intentions to enter the NBA Draft, including Smart, Naz Reid, Emmitt Williams, Tremont Waters and Skylar Mays. College basketball’s spring signing period starts Wednesday.
Reaction to Wade’s reinstatement was mixed. ESPN analyst and former coach Fran Fraschilla tweeted, “All of you college coaches who have had your heads down during the FBI investigations, you can officially commence cheating.”
Wade and Arizona coach Sean Miller have been subpoenaed to appear at an April 22 trial involving the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption.
“There has been no statement from the NCAA that the investigation of Wade has ended,” wrote Glenn Guilbeau, who covers Louisiana sports for USA Today. “And neither Alleva nor other LSU officials reached Sunday would confirm that the NCAA’s ongoing inquiry into Wade has ended. Generally, schools do not end such investigations. The NCAA does.”
The guess here is that LSU sees Wade as a good coach who brought the program its first conference title in a decade. It will try to hang on to him if it can. Or as long as it can.