The old Will Wade story is as the LSU head basketball coach, he was one of the most blatant cheaters ever. An FBI wiretap caught him talking about buying players with ‘strong-ass’ offers. After a lengthy period of LSU taking no action against Wade, the school finally fired him after it received the NCAA Notice of Allegations. That was in March 2022, but the NCAA investigation and the FBI probe into college basketball went back several more years.
It should not be forgotten that LSU knew at least some of what Wade was doing going back to 2019. The only credible defense for LSU is that it knew of the allegations against Wade but had no knowledge of the allegations being true. That is a flimsy defense, but apparently, one the NCAA accepted.
LSU was the SEC Champion in the 2018-19 season, with a Will Wade-coached team that finished 28-5 and made the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen.
To many who follow college basketball what LSU did was condone Wade’s egregious actions in exchange for wins, a championship, and an NCAA Tournament run.
Due to the NCAA investigation of Will Wade, the LSU football program also came under scrutiny. The NCAA decision announced on Thursday gave the LSU football and basketball programs three-year probation. Some LSU football wins will be vacated and there are minimal recruiting restrictions. LSU was also given a bowl ban, which it had already self-imposed in the 2020 season when the Bengal Tigers had a 5-5 record.
Will Wade was hired by McNeese State in March 2023. McNeese, looking to defuse some of the taint from hiring Wade, hired him and at the same time imposed a 5-game suspension on him for the 2023-24 season.
Two-year show cause for Will Wade
The new Will Wade story is his almost painless punishment by the NCAA.
With Thursday’s NCAA announced decision of a two-year show cause against Wade, the suspension becomes 10 games in the 2023-24 season. He will also have recruiting restrictions during the show cause, but overall the penalties against Wade are minimal.
The NCAA’s minor punishment of Wade is disappointing but not surprising. Wade’s defenders correctly point out that what he did is standard business now. That should give all who care about college sports pause.
The stink of Will Wade will be on McNeese State for a while. In an attempt to deflect some of the negative, the McNeese Athletic Director released a statement.
"We accept and respect today’s decision by the IARP in regards to Coach Wade. We are all happy this is finally behind us and we have clarity moving forward. We have been proactive from the beginning in respecting the NCAA’s process and in regards to protecting the integrity of our institution. That will not change moving forward. The enthusiasm around this program is at an all-time high and we are all excited about the future of McNeese Basketball with coach (Wade) leading the way."
Talking about integrity while also talking about Will Wade is worse than a bad joke. Such irony could only make Will Wade laugh.