By David Boclair
Nashville native Will Wade is back to work.
LSU reinstated Wade as its men’s basketball coach Sunday after a suspension that lasted more than a month. It cost him the opportunity to coach his team, which won the SEC regular season championship, in the conference and NCAA tournaments.
“I look forward to re-joining the team right away,” Wade said in a statement released by the school’s athletics department. “I intend to sit down with my student-athletes and co-workers to explain what has happened during the last 30 days and how I intend for us all to move forward.
“I promise to devote all of my energy into preparing for next season and finishing the job we have started at LSU.”
Wade, a Franklin Road Academy graduate, was suspended March 8 after reports that an FBI wiretap caught him discussing illegal recruiting measures. Two weeks later, athletics director Joe Alleva publicly criticized Wade for the fact that he had not met with LSU officials to discuss the matter.
The parties finally got together Friday and Wade gave his side of the story. Alleva said the coach “answered all questions and denied any wrongdoing in connection with recently reported allegations of irregularities in college basketball recruiting.”
“I regret the circumstances that prevented me from meeting with the University sooner,” Wade said in his statement. “I wish I could have addressed these issues when the University first requested a meeting, and I’m grateful they gave me the opportunity to do so last week.
“I completely understand that without my denying or explaining the media reports accusing me of wrongdoing LSU was left with no choice but to suspend me until I was willing and able to meet with them. Any other course of action would have put the program and the University at risk.”
Wade has been LSU’s coach for the past two seasons. Before that, he also coached two seasons each at Chattanooga (2013-15) and Virginia Commonwealth (2015-17). His career record is 134-65 (.673), including 43-20 at LSU. The Tigers went 25-5 under his direction and were 3-2 — and reached the NCAA Sweet 16 — after he was suspended.
“The seriousness of the allegations and Coach Wade’s prior refusal to refute them could not be ignored without exposing the University and the basketball program to great risk,” Alleva said in his statement. “Protecting LSU and preserving our integrity must always be our first priority.
“Coach Wade’s explanations and clarifications offered during the meeting, absent actual evidence of misconduct, satisfy his contractual obligation to LSU. Accordingly, I have recommended that Coach Wade’s suspension be lifted and that he should be allowed to resume his coaching responsibilities.”
Photo from Getty Images.