LSU coach Will Wade is in the crosshairs of the NCAA again after a report from ESPN on Wednesday revealed that he was part of “impermissible payments” made to nearly a dozen potential recruits or people close to them, according to NCAA documents.
The documents allege Wade “arranged for, offered and/or provided impermissible payments, including cash payments, to at least 11 men’s basketball prospective student-athletes, their family members, individuals associated with the prospects and/or nonscholastic coaches in exchange for the prospects’ enrollment at LSU,” according to the report.
It’s unclear how many — if any — of the 11 potential recruits who are part of the NCAA investigation went on to sign with the Tigers.
Wade was suspended in March 2019 from his post as LSU’s coach after reports from a wiretapped conversation revealed he discussed a “strong-ass” offer to a recruit, who was later identified as JaVonte Smart. (Smart will be a junior at LSU this fall.) He was reinstated just a month later after a meeting with NCAA officials in which Wade “denied any wrongdoing in connection with recently reported allegations of irregularities in college basketball recruiting,” LSU said.
Wade nonetheless was reportedly caught in a wiretapped conversation discussing the very definition of recruiting irregularities, particularly in a conversation between he and basketball middleman Christian Dawkins.
“I went to him with a [expletive] strong-ass offer about a month ago. [Expletive] strong,” Wade allegedly said regarding the recruitment Smart, who was a top-40 national recruit from Baton Rouge. “The problem was, I know why he didn’t take it now, it was [expletive] tilted toward the family a little bit. It was tilted toward taking care of the mom, taking care of the kid. Like it was tilted towards that. Now I know for a fact he didn’t explain everything to the mom. I know now, he didn’t get enough of the piece of the pie in the deal.”
The allegations against Wade and obtained by ESPN were included in the NCAA’s enforcement staff’s request that its ongoing infractions case involving Wade and the men’s basketball program be steered through IARP, the process through which more complex cases are handled.
Earlier this year in a new HBO documentary “The Scheme,” audio of Wade was aired in which he was caught in a conversation with Dawkins discussing how LSU could compensate a player “better than the [NBA’s] rookie minimum.”
“We’d give him more than the D-League,” said Wade discussing Jaron Blossomgame, then a Clemson standout.