LSU suspended coach Will Wade on Friday in the wake of a report from Yahoo Sports that revealed Wade was caught on a wiretap speaking about making payments to current freshman guard Javonte Smart. In a phone conversation with Christian Dawkins—who was recently sentenced to six months in prison for wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy—the coach talked about the frustration of a third party not taking a strong offer to get Smart to commit to LSU. This was the portion of the conversation the report chose to highlight:
“I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m [expletive] tired of dealing with the thing. Like I’m just [expletive] sick of dealing with the [expletive]. Like, this should not be that [expletive] complicated.”
“Dude,” Wade continued to Dawkins, referring to the third party involved in the recruitment, “I went to him with a [expletive] strong-ass offer about a month ago. [Expletive] strong.
“The problem was, I know why he didn’t take it now, it was [expletive] tilted toward the family a little bit,” Wade continued. “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.”
Dawkins responded by saying, “Hmmmm.”
“It was a [expletive] hell of a [expletive] offer,” Wade continued. “Hell of an offer.”
“OK,” Dawkins said.
“Especially for a kid who is going to be a two- or three-year kid,” Wade said.
Nothing in that conversation mentioned anything about the offer’s specifics, or whether the offer was against any kind of NCAA policy. All that’s known from the transcript is that an offer existed. Nonetheless, LSU decided to take proactive steps to protect the program from the NCAA’s wildly inept hammer of justice and removed Wade from the program indefinitely.
In a statement to NOLA.com, the coach expressed his understanding of why the school did what it had to do, but also tried to maintain an image of innocence on his part saying, “would ask everyone to withhold their judgment until the record is complete.” Any kind of judgment would most likely come not from the fact that he potentially had a hand in paying a player, but the fact that he vehemently denied having “done any business of any kind” with Dawkins back in October—which is also probably why LSU was quick with the suspension trigger.
Perhaps the most annoying comment about this situation came from SEC president Greg Sankey who said in a statement, “I support the action of LSU in its suspension of head men’s basketball coach Will Wade. The information in recent news reports is very disturbing, if true.”
Calling the act of player maybe receiving money for his basketball-playing abilities “disturbing” is complete and utter nonsense that’s a result of the posturing the NCAA’s absurd regulations force on these assholes. The only reason this whole case happened in the first place is because the draconian policies of the association creates a system where the players miss out on the compensation they’re owed so that those at the top can receive big salaries. There really wouldn’t be a fraud case otherwise. What makes the “disturbing” characterization even more bothersome is that when you look at the context of the transcripts, this topic only came up over the phone because too much of “the pie” Smart and his mother for the middle man’s liking. Above all else, the only information that was revealed in the reports was that something was vaguely offered, which has to make you wonder what other inconsequential events in Sankey’s life meet the very low threshold of what qualifies as “disturbing.”
Because of all of that, a harmless action is no longer a victimless “crime.” A top-10 team has been screwed out of having their coach in arguably the most important point of the season. The Tigers now have to navigate the conference tournament, and the national tournament without the guy who helped take them to those heights in the first place—though the drive to win a title might be muted by the fact that there’s a more-than-likely chance that any titles won from here on out gets stripped away. The team also might have to go through these games without Smart, a starter, as I doubt LSU will only be sitting him for Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt.