LSU coach Will Wade denies Naz Reid payment allegation and admits “mistakes”
The reaction from national media was predictable.
Even though they knew the answer to the questions before they asked them to embattled LSU basketball coach Will Wade at the SEC meetings in Sandestin, Wade was lambasted nationally Tuesday.
The headline from The Athletic was succinct: From “strong ass” to “awkward.”
Yahoo Sports, an entity which reported extensively on Wade’s alleged recruiting practices, said Wade was being enabled by the LSU administration.
No one really expected Wade to get into details about what exactly he meant, when on an FBI wiretap he allegedly said he had made “a strong ass offer” to a recruit, believed to LSU freshman guard Javonte Smart.
Wade said he understood why the question had to be asked, but that some things had to be kept confidential in his discussions with the NCAA and LSU.
The coach of the SEC regular season champions also said he made mistakes. A big one he mentioned was not meeting with LSU officials sooner, once the alleged wiretap conversation was reported by Yahoo Sports.
Wade is a very good coach by trade, but in his presser, he was the pupil sticking to a script formulated by LSU officials. He said what he had to say and faced the music. Well, sort of.
LSU clearly didn’t want to fire Wade, especially after the head coach led the Tigers to 16 league wins and a Southeastern Conference title.
In the meantime, there’s no telling if the purple and gold storm clouds have passed for Will Wade. If he is found complicit in NCAA level 1 or 2 violations, he can be fired with cause. He also forfeited $250,000 in bonuses he earned during LSU’s extraordinary 2018-2019 season.
Wade admitted he was brash, and that behavior had rubbed some people the wrong way. He said he must develop trust with new director of athletics Scott Woodward.
“I don’t know Scott,” said Wade.
Wade said one day he hopes to share more publicly about exactly what happened behind the scenes.
However, he did make one denial. Wade said reports of him making a $300,000 offer to star freshman Naz Reid were false.
“My name came up again in the latest testimony in the latest (NCAA basketball) corruption trial,” said Wade. “I said I am not going to get into addressing every media report. Some of them are so far out there, it doesn’t warrant me giving credence to it. But, I will say this on the latest report that wasn’t covered in my meeting with LSU. It is absolutely false and did not happen.”
So, Wade and LSU theoretically move forward.
Is there another shoe to drop? Who knows? But, since being benched for the NCAA tournament, Wade has showed survival skills. He changed attorneys, spoke to LSU and the NCAA, landed a 5 star recruit and had four of his players decided to return to school after testing the NBA draft waters.
LSU basketball has a chance to be really good against next season. Wade could very well be coaching that team.
Will Wade isn’t Harry Houdini, but his ability to weather the storm would make the famous stunt man proud.
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WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM
Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…