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LSU Gets Dreaded And Expected Notice Of Allegations From NCAA Concerning Basketball Recruiting

LSU men’s basketball coach Will Wade may be in serious trouble with the NCAA and with his employers because of alleged recruiting violations that have been circling him and his program since 2019.

LSU has received the dreaded and expected Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, according to a story Tuesday by SI.com’s Pat Forde, who helped break a Yahoo.com story on March 7, 2019, that kicked off Wade’s serious NCAA troubles. That story featured Wade saying in 2017 on FBI wiretap that he went to highly recruited prep prospect Javonte Smart “with a (expletive deleted) strong-ass offer.”

LSU sources confirmed Forde’s latest report to OutKick and other news outlets on Tuesday. LSU athletic director Scott Woodward and Wade have not commented on this latest development, however.

LSU did finally release a statement concerning the NCAA’s update on Wednesday afternoon that said very little, but at least pledged to not break NCAA rules, which Wade appears to have done many times – allegedly.

“Per NCAA rules and procedures, LSU is unable to comment on any aspect of the ongoing case,” LSU athletics spokesperson Cody Worsham said. “We will continue to cooperate fully with the IARP as we work together toward a resolution.”

The statement does not mention Wade’s future cooperation with the NCAA and the IARP, which is an Independent Accountability Review Process for the NCAA’s more serious and complex cases that typically involve major violations.

Wade, who is in his fifth season at LSU, may be asked about the Notice of Allegations at the SEC Tournament in Tampa, Florida, this week. His No. 5 seeded Tigers (21-10) play on Thursday (2 p.m. eastern, SEC Network) against the winner of Wednesday’s game (6 p.m., SEC Network) between No. 12 seed Missouri and No. 13 seed Ole Miss.

Smart was the No. 8 point guard in the nation for LSU’s signing class of 2018 out of Scotlandville High in Baton Rouge. He was one of the Tigers’ best players in the 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. LSU advanced in the NCAA Tournament in 2019 and in 2021 with the 2019-20 postseason canceled because of COVID-19. LSU won the SEC regular season title in 2019 at 16-2 and finished 28-7 in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 with Smart, who is now in the Miami Heat’s organization in the NBA.

The NCAA has been investigating many other alleged recruiting violations by Wade over the years in addition to those involving Smart.

“I’ve made deals for a lot of players who are as good as him,” Wade went on to say in 2017 in reference to Smart on the FBI tape, which was discovered as part of a federal investigation of corruption in college basketball.

“I mean, it was a (expletive deleted) hell of a (expletive deleted) offer,” Wade continued on tape, which was also part of an HBO documentary called “The Scheme” that was first aired in March of 2020 and soiled Wade’s withering reputation even more.

This Notice of Allegations comes four months after members of the Complex Case Unit of the NCAA’s IARP interviewed Wade over two days. NCAA officials also interviewed one of Wade’s assistants at the time.

After the “strong-ass offer” story came out three years ago Monday, Wade refused to be interviewed or cooperate with LSU or NCAA officials and was suspended by LSU on March 8, 2019. He was reinstated a month later only after his contract was significantly changed.

Wade’s amended contract that he had to agree to in order to be reinstated was amended allows for LSU to fire him with cause and not owe him any remaining money from his contract should he be just investigated for a Level 1 or Level 2 NCAA violation, which are the most serious.

The level of violations involved with the Notice of Allegations received by LSU is not known publicly at this time.

Wade’s contract pays him $2.5 million a year and expires on June 30, 2023.

LSU will have a month or more to respond to the Notice of Allegations. Then the Complex Case Units will file a response, and LSU’s hearing will be scheduled with an NCAA ruling and delivery of LSU’s possible punishment, probation and sanctions after that. LSU’s case could be finished by next fall.

Wade, 39, came to LSU before the 2017-18 season from Virginia Commowealth amid questions about his recruiting practices there. He was hired by then-LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, who said after leaving LSU that he regretted ignoring some information he was told about Wade before hiring him,

“I got some bad recommendations on that guy,” Alleva said in 2020 to the Baton Rouge Advocate.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau has been on the LSU beat since 1998 with multiple outlets in Louisiana, prior to that he had covered both Auburn and Alabama. He won first place for his game feature on LSU's upset at Florida last season from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He was also named Beat Writer of Year, by Louisiana Sports Writers Association in July; placed in three Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) categories – Beat Writer, Explanatory, Game Coverage – last spring. Guilbeau was also the FWAA first-place winner for columns in 2017 and was also the top overall winner in 2016 FWAA placing first for his game story, second in columns, and receiving honorable mention for features.

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  1. Wade was corrupt as hell, so he fit into the athletic administration at LSU.
    What he did then was certainly against the rules in place at that time.
    I’m not sure how the NIL stuff would change things if similar allegations were made today. I don’t know if uninversities are allowed to arrange NIL deals for the student athletes who are considering attending that school.

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