By David Boclair
Franklin Road Academy alum and LSU basketball coach Will Wade admitted he made mistakes.
He did not, however, acknowledge any wrongdoing in relation to NCAA recruiting rules as alleged in sworn testimony earlier this year in the FBI’s expansive case against corruption in college basketball recruiting.
It was those allegations, beginning with an FBI transcript of a phone call in which Wade discussed the recruitment of a particular player, that led LSU to suspend the Nashville native indefinitely. He ultimately missed the end of the regular season and all of the Tigers’ games in the SEC and NCAA tournaments.
“As I’ve had time to reflect since I was out for 40 days or so — there were some mistakes that I made,” Wade said Tuesday, according to ESPN.com. “But ever … since I was able to sit down and talk to LSU and the NCAA, I was fully cooperative.”
His comments came during a session with reporters at the SEC meetings in Destin, Florida. It was the first time he spoke publicly about anything related to the matter since it surfaced in early March.
“I wish, looking back on things, we could have gotten into a room together a lot quicker than we did,” he said. “That was my mistake. I respect LSU’s decision based on that.”
Wade has been LSU’s coach for two seasons and gone 43-20, including 25-5 in 2018-19 when the Tigers won the SEC regular season title and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
He sidestepped most direct questions about comments attributed to him in the FBI transcript of the phone call that prompted his suspension and at one point said he “not heard the recording so I don’t know” whether he could confirm his comments.
He did offer a direct denial of testimony of a former assistant coach at a different school, who said LSU had agreed to pay $300,000 to Naz Reid, one of the nation’s top 2018 recruits. Reid was LSU’s second-leading scorer last season.
“It was absolutely false and did not happen,” Wade said.
Photo from Getty Images.