Fresh off of a regular-season conference title, the LSU men’s basketball team takes the court today in the SEC tournament — but coach Will Wade won’t be on the sidelines, despite asking to be be reinstated from suspension this week.
Wade was suspended last week after being caught on an FBI wiretap discussing a recruiting offer with a man convicted as part of the ongoing college basketball corruption probe.
On Thursday, The Advocate reported that Wade professed "love for LSU and everything it stands for" in asking to return to coaching, but the school quickly rebuffed him.
In a statement, Wade said he had "been placed on leave because I exercised my right not to submit to a joint LSU/NCAA interview on the exact same subject matter at issue in an impending federal criminal trial in New York. My legal counsel advised the University that it would be wholly inappropriate for me, or anyone, to submit to an interview under these circumstances."
LSU didn’t buy that argument, and Tom Skinner, LSU's general counsel responded to Wade's statement with one of his own, which read:
"Coach Will Wade has yet to deny any wrongdoing to us or publicly. Absent that, the university is in a very difficult position with regard to compliance with NCAA requirements, and until Coach Wade talks to university administration about this, he remains suspended. There is a standing offer for him and his attorneys to meet with LSU officials."
Wade's apparent hope is that he'll be allowed to return to coaching after the federal investigation concludes. Wade's contract language, however, makes that situation unlikely. The contract includes a clause requiring the coach to cooperate "fully in any investigation of possible NCAA or SEC violations conducted or authorized by LSU, the SEC, or the NCAA at any time."
As Skinner put it to The Advocate, "It's not, 'Hey, I'll meet with you in five years when the feds investigate 50 schools,' It's 'You meet with us because you're our employee and we've made a request that you meet with us.' "
Athletic director Joe Alleva said that Wade was suspended for his refusal to cooperate, rather than the seemingly damning evidence turned up in the media.
"He was suspended because he refused to meet with us as an employee-employer relationship to discuss the issue," Alleva told The Advocate.