Louisiana State University fired men's basketball coach Will Wade for cause amid “serious” allegations of NCAA violations, the university announced Saturday in a joint statement from its president and athletic director.
The firing comes the day after LSU was bounced from the Southeastern Conference Tournament by Arkansas, 79-67, in a quarterfinal game on Friday night, and a day before the Tigers were tabbed as a No. 6 seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA tournament.
“For more than four years, the University has patiently allowed the NCAA investigative process to unfold, jointly working with the NCAA Enforcement Staff and, subsequently, with the Complex Case Unit (CCU), to ensure the evidence collected was as thorough and fair as possible,” said the statement signed by LSU president William F. Tate and athletic director Scott Woodward, as reported by The Associated Press. “Throughout that time, the University and its men’s basketball program have operated under an exhausting shroud of negativity.”
The Complex Case Unit this past week issued LSU a formal notice of allegations, which “contains serious allegations, including multiple charges alleging Coach Wade’s personal involvement in — or awareness of — Level I misconduct,” the LSU statement said. “We can no longer subject our University, Department of Athletics, and — most importantly — our student-athletes, to this taxing and already-lengthy process without taking action. Our responsibility to protect and promote the integrity and well-being of our entire institution and our student-athletes will always be paramount.”
Level I violations can include a head coach's lack of oversight on compliance matters; failure to cooperate in an NCAA investigation; unethical or dishonest conduct; or disallowed cash or similar benefits provided to recruits, the AP reported.
LSU's statement, however, stressed that Wade's firing was “not an acknowledgment of agreement with any of the allegations. The University will determine its positions on the allegations after an exhaustive and objective examination of the relevant facts.”
The university also fired associate head coach Bill Armstrong and named assistant coach Kevin Nickelberry as interim head coach. LSU went 22-11 this season (9-9 in the SEC) and is expected to play its first-round tournament game against Iowa State on Friday in Milwaukee, an athletic department spokesperson told The Advocate of Baton Rouge. LSU’s Cody Worsham said a self-imposed or NCAA-imposed postseason ban has not been discussed.
As reported by Sports Illustrated, current and former LSU players were stunned by Wade's termination. Point guard Adam Miller, who has been sidelined for the 2021-22 season due to a torn ACL after transferring from Illinois, spoke out about the firing of Wade, tweeting that the news hurt worse than his injury.