LSU basketball coach Will Wade was suspended by the university after he declined to meet with administrators to discuss alleged comments Wade made about recruiting efforts on phone calls secretly recorded by the FBI, a source familiar with the situation told The Advocate.
Wade's comments on the phone calls with Christian Dawkins, a federally indicted former sports agent and Adidas consultant, were reported by Yahoo Sports and ESPN on Thursday.
In the reported phone calls from June 2017, portions of which were quoted in the Yahoo and ESPN stories, Wade discussed making "a strong-ass offer" to a basketball recruit who appears to be Javonte Smart, then a Scotlandville High School star and now a standout freshman guard for LSU.
After Wade declined to meet with LSU administrators to discuss the reports, the source said, LSU officials felt they had no choice but to suspend Wade.
It hasn't yet been determined whether Smart, who's averaging 11.5 points per game, will start tomorrow night's home game against Vanderbilt, the source told The Advocate. The Vanderbilt matchup is the final regular-season game for the No. 10-ranked Tigers.
After LSU suspended coach Will Wade on Friday, the school said it has no intention of skipping the postseason after reports surfaced Thursday …
Below is a joint statement between LSU President F. King Alexander and athletic director Joe Alleva on Wade's suspension, which was announced Friday morning:
“Recent media reports regarding Coach Will Wade are without question concerning to all of us. As such, we and university officials have taken deliberate and purposeful steps to fairly assess and adequately address this situation. As we have done since media reports first surfaced months ago, we are closely coordinating with the NCAA with every step. They have our full cooperation and we will continue to report to them all facts and information on this matter.
"All of us at LSU share the obligation to protect the integrity of this institution, as such we have suspended Head Coach Will Wade indefinitely until such time as we can ensure full compliance with the NCAA, as well as institutional policies and standards. Assistant coach Tony Benford will assume the duties of interim head coach.”
LATEST: LSU basketball coach Will Wade suspended after Yahoo report; school releases statement
Yahoo Sports and ESPN released reports Thursday that Wade was heard on an FBI wiretap discussing possible payment for a recruit.
Asked by The Advocate for a comment Friday afternoon, Wade said via text, "No. Sorry."
Wade later issued a lengthier statement to The Advocate in which he said the media reports "do not begin to tell the full story" and called coaching the LSU men's basketball team "the honor of my life."
"I understand the University had to take action before all the facts are in, but I would ask everyone to withhold their judgment until the record is complete," Wade said.
In the wake of Thursday's Yahoo! report, some media outlets have suggested that LSU not participate in the upcoming Southeastern Conference and NCAA tournament.
But senior associate athletic director Robert Munson told The Advocate by phone Friday that LSU has no plans to skip the postseason.
"No, no, no," Munson stressed.
He declined to comment further.
Wade, in his second season with LSU, has led the Tigers to a 25-5 (15-2 SEC) record and the cusp of an SEC regular season title. The team faces Vanderbilt on Saturday, with a win ensuring them at least a share of the title for the first time since 2009.
Wade, 36, has previously been the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth and Chattanooga.
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The reports came after the FBI secretly recorded phone conversations between Wade and federally indicted middleman Christian Dawkins spanning June 19 to June 30, 2017.
In the conversations Wade made references to “this Smart thing” and issues with a “strong-ass offer” to a recruit’s family through an intermediary that would compensate more than the “rookie minimum.”
The time of intercepted calls matches the recruiting timeline of Javonte Smart, a 5-star recruit out of Scotlandville Magnet High School, who is a freshman on the team.
This story will be updated.
LSU basketball coach Will Wade has made a statement for the first time since news broke of his suspension Friday.
The commissioner of the Southeastern Conference said Friday he supports LSU's decision to suspend basketball coach Will Wade.