Basketball

Will Wade asks LSU to lift his suspension amid FBI investigation

LSU men’s basketball coach Will Wade issued a lengthy statement Thursday, asking the university to lift his suspension.

Wade was suspended indefinitely by LSU on Friday after he refused to meet with school officials to discuss reports alleging that Wade had been caught on FBI wiretaps talking about a “strong-a— offer” he gave to a recruit.

The coach, however, defended his decision to wait for the federal investigation into college basketball recruiting to conclude before he discusses the allegations with the school.

“Declining to be interviewed was a difficult decision for me, as I would like to cooperate fully with all parties, particularly LSU,” Wade wrote, in part (via The Advocate). “To be clear, however, all I’ve done is follow the prudent advice of counsel to exercise my constitutional rights to due process. Given these facts, I don’t believe it is appropriate for me to be relieved of my duties.”

Athletic director Joe Alleva and other LSU officials reportedly said Wade could return this season if he agrees to a meeting and explains his reported comments on the wiretap, per The Advocate.

Wade is expected to be subpoenaed for a federal trial scheduled to start April 22, two weeks after the Final Four. Unless he changes his mind about meeting with LSU officials, it appears Wade won’t be with No. 9 LSU (26-5), the SEC regular-season champion at 16-2, for the conference tournament and an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Wade’s full statement:

“This morning, I advised President Alexander, Athletic Director Joe Alleva and the LSU Board of Supervisors that I would like to resume my duties as Head Basketball Coach. Last week, when the University decided to place me on administrative leave, I accepted the decision without complaint as I knew that they wanted time to reflect on the flurry of media reports. With the benefit of a week to consider the circumstances, I believe University officials should allow me to resume my duties.

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“I understand that in today’s hyper-intense media environment it is extremely difficult for any organization, particularly a public university, to stand firm in the face of rumors, leaks and innuendo. In this case, the simple truth is I have been placed on leave because I exercised my right not to submit to a joint LSU/NCAA interview on the exact same subject matter at issue in an impending federal criminal trial in New York. My legal counsel advised the University that it would be wholly inappropriate for me, or anyone, to submit to an interview under these circumstances.

“Declining to be interviewed was a difficult decision for me, as I would like to cooperate fully with all parties, particularly LSU. To be clear, however, all I’ve done is follow the prudent advice of counsel to exercise my constitutional rights to due process. Given these facts, I don’t believe it is appropriate for me to be relieved of my duties. We have a great basketball program made up of excellent student athletes and quality coaches. The players who’ve given their all for this institution, the students and alumni who are devoted to LSU, and fans all across Louisiana and beyond deserve to see this team fulfill its destiny. I love LSU and everything it stands for. What I’m asking for is the right to do my job while exercising my constitutional rights. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”

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