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Will Wade’s new start as a college basketball coach at McNeese State may not exactly be a fresh one.
His contract with the small Division I college of 7,000 students reads like the NCAA wrote it. Because it did write much of it, or performed a very close advisory role. That is how McNeese State athletic director Heath Schroyer wanted it. Because he was hiring a coach whom the NCAA hammered individually one year ago with five Level I violations in its Notice of Allegations against LSU.
WILL WADE AND ALL HIS SORDID VIOLATIONS AT LSU
Level I is the most serious, and all five directly involve Wade. He was LSU’s coach from 2017 through March of 2022 when he was fired about three years after he should have been.
Wade’s McNeese contract may be one of the first in college basketball history to include an introductory, proactive suspension. Wade will miss the first five games of the Cowboys’ 2023-24 season. He will not start off fresh until game six.
Will Wade Has An NCAA-Strong Contract At McNeese State
“Coach shall serve a five game suspension in the 2023-24 basketball season,” the contract states in the first of eight stipulations. Those are pointed at Wade’s voluminous NCAA violations at LSU. OutKick received a copy of the contract via McNeese on Tuesday:
-“McNeese will hire, and Coach shall work with an additional compliance officer to ensure the strict compliance with NCAA rules.”
-“Coach shall submit a weekly report on all recruiting activities, which will include phone calls, texts, etcetera.” That weekly report will be submitted to McNeese’s compliance office and then to the Southland Conference office.
A LOOKBACK AT THE FBI’S INVESTIGATION OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL
McNeese obviously has in mind the infamous phone conversation Wade had with agent runner Christian Dawkins in Wade’s first months as LSU’s coach in 2017. Wade became forever linked to the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption from 2017-19 through that phone call that was taped by the FBI.
According to a Yahoo.com story of March 7, 2019, Wade said on federal wiretap in 2017 that he made “a strong-ass offer” to Baton Rouge prep star guard Javonte Smart’s family. Smart soon signed with LSU and played from 2018-21. He helped lead the Tigers to the 2019 SEC title and advances in the NCAA Tournament in 2019 and ’21. The FBI later arrested Dawkins. He is serving an 18-month sentence in prison on bribery and conspiracy charges. LSU suspended Wade soon after the Yahoo.com story.
LSU fired Wade last March just after the NCAA released its lengthy Notice of Allegations.
Will Wade’s Contract Stipulations
Other NCAA-heavy stipulations in Wade’s contract to protect the school from his recruiting history becoming his recruiting future include:
- “Coach and his staff shall participate in mandatory, weekly NCAA compliance education classes conducted by (McNeese compliance’s office).”
- “Coach shall not be permitted to have any off-campus recruiting related activities from date of hire through July 31, 2023.”
- “Coach shall reduce official visits by four during the 2023-24 academic years.”
- “Coach shall be banned from all recruiting conversations between September 1, 2023, through October 15, 2023.”
- “Coach shall be banned from having any unofficial visits from September 1, 2023, through October 15, 2023.”
McNeese State Has Done Its NCAA Homework Regarding LSU
McNeese is obviously ready for the NCAA hammer.
The NCAA slapped Wade’s LSU program with seven Level I violations in all last March with most involving recruiting. The violations included the dreaded “lack of institutional control.” That one was tied in with the football program. LSU football drew one Level 1 recruiting violation.
The NCAA held a hearing with Wade over three days last February in Dallas. It is expected to hand down his and LSU’s sentencing this summer. Schroyer met with Wade in Dallas just after the hearing.
“I respect the NCAA and the process,” Schroyer told the Lake Charles American Press. “We have done our due diligence, and I want to be proactive with coach and send a clear signal to all that we take this situation very seriously.”
In other words, please NCAA, be kind. Look at all we’ve done to contain this serial cheater.
Schroyer and company at McNeese have looked into Wade’s case as close as anyone. And they are obviously wary of what may be coming.
Wade’s camp and his legions of LSU fans have incorrectly read McNeese’s hiring of Wade as complete bill of all clear from the NCAA. Not at all.
McNeese is desperate for basketball success. It has 11 straight losing seasons and 15 losing campaigns out of the last 17 with no NCAA Tournament since 2002. And only two in history. It basically has been on NCAA probation since 2003 anyway. So, what’s a few more sanctions because it hired Wade?
Will Wade Must Know The NCAA Will Strike Hard
The fact that Wade is going to McNeese also proves that Wade may know he is about to get hammered by the NCAA. If he didn’t think that, don’t you think he would wait for a better job if the NCAA – like so many LSU fans think – only gives him a slap on the wrist this summer?
Ole Miss just hired Chris Beard, who was charged with beating up his fiancee’ very badly while Texas’ coach. The charges were dropped, but that unfortunately happens a lot when a woman decides she wants to stay with the man anyway, often for financial stability.
Wade really wanted the job at Ole Miss, which is also desperate to be good in basketball. The Rebels have been to nine NCAA Tournaments in history and only three since 2003. Their best was a Sweet 16 in 2001.
But if Ole Miss is going to hire an alleged woman beater over Wade, either Ole Miss thinks Beard is a much better coach than Wade (which he is), or there must be a lot coming from the NCAA.
Will Wade May Figure He Cannot Do Better Than McNeese
So, Wade may have figured McNeese is the best he can do. Coaching at McNeese won’t be the show-cause exile that kept Bruce Pearl out of coaching for three years before Auburn took him in 2014 following his firing from Tennessee in 2011 after an NCAA investigation. Or will it in essence be the same thing/
Wade is in Lake Charles. That’s exile for college basketball coaches.
If Kool-Aid guzzling LSU fans are correct, and Wade gets minimal penalties from the NCAA and newfound interest from bigger schools, McNeese is ready. He has to pay McNeese $1 million if he takes another job between now and April 30, 2024. It will be $500,000 after that for a year, then $250,000 for another two years.
If the penalties match the notice of allegations and are voluminous for Wade, then that will be good for McNeese. Because Wade, only 40, is a very talented, though at times immature, coach. He has recruited and coached five teams that reached the NCAA Tournament – two at Virginia Commonwealth and three at LSU.
Now, he wasn’t there for two of the three NCAA Tournaments at LSU because he was suspended and fired, respectively. But he built and coached the teams that got there. Now, the building generated gobs of recruiting violations, but at least he has an eye for talent regardless of how he acquires it, right? And he is a pretty good floor coach, though he loses his temper too often, which takes away from his talent.
Will Wade Says His Career Needs A ‘Rebirth’
“My career needs a rebirth after everything that’s gone on, you know,” Wade said at his introductory press conference.
He smiled like a bad used car salesman when he said that, so there’s that. If you listen to that phone call with Dawkins, you come away thinking Wade likes to cheat. It’s fun.
Funny thing, though. Wade will find recruiting harder now, and not just because he’s at McNeese. Because he will have to deal with more coaches paying players than when he was at LSU. With Name, Image & Likeness, everybody can recruit the way Wade did at LSU. Tossing money around has to be in a collective or business, though. Many other coaches were at the time, too, but not quite like Wade. He ran a two-minute offense of cheating at LSU.
“Let’s be honest,” Wade said at the press conference about his rebirth. “Right?”
That, Will Wade, would be a fresh and new start for you.
Regardless of what the NCAA’s sentence is of Wade, McNeese and Schroyer will win.
McNeese had sold more than 60 of its premium basketball seating memberships at about $1,200 a pop a day after it introduced Slick Willie.
And get this, if the NCAA does hammer Wade and thus McNeese by association, McNeese knows all that could mean is it will get to keep Wade longer.
And that’s good business.