March 8 (UPI) — LSU men’s basketball head coach Will Wade was suspended indefinitely, the university announced Friday.
Wade, who became the Tigers’ coach March 21, 2017, came under scrutiny over the last 24 hours after sources informed Yahoo Sports that he was caught on wiretap obtained by the FBI in 2017 while discussing an “offer” with Christian Dawkins over the phone.
Dawkins is a former aspiring sports agent and middleman who was sentenced to six months in federal prison this week for his involvement in the NCAA basketball corruption scandal.
“Recent media reports regarding Coach Will Wade are without question concerning to all of us,” LSU President F. King Alexander and athletic director Joe Alleva said in a joint statement. “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.”
Sources told Yahoo Sports that Wade was heard discussing a “Smart thing” with Dawkins. It’s unclear exactly what he was referring to, but it’s believed to be a reference to Javonte Smart, who is a freshman guard with the Tigers.
Smart was a former top-50 recruit from Baton Rouge and announced his decision to sign with LSU via Twitter on June 30, 2017.
“I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade reportedly said in the conversation with Dawkins. “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.
“I went to him with a [expletive] strong-[expletive] offer about a month ago. [Expletive] strong. The problem was, I know why he didn’t take it now, it was [expletive] tilted toward the family a little bit.
“It was tilted toward taking care of the mom, taking care of the kid. Like it was tilted towards that. Now I know for a fact he didn’t explain everything to the mom. I know now, he didn’t get enough of the piece of the pie in the deal.”
The tape doesn’t reference any specifics about the “offer” or whether it violated NCAA rules, according to Yahoo Sports.
Wade offered a statement Friday and asked everyone to withhold judgement until the facts are released.
“I cannot comment at this time on various media reports, except to say that they do not begin to tell the full story,” Wade told NOLA.com. “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.”
The university announced that assistant coach Tony Benford will take over as interim head coach in Wade’s absence. LSU can clinch at least a share of the SEC regular-season title Saturday against Vanderbilt.