The nearly month-long standoff between suspended LSU basketball coach Will Wade and university officials took a new twist Thursday afternoon.
According to an SI.com report, the standoff that began March 8 could be coming to an end in the near future after Wade hired new representation — Chicago-based attorney Steven Thompson.
"This is something we have been working on for weeks, and I can confirm the most recent talks with Will’s legal counsel have been productive," LSU senior associate athletic director Robert Munson said in a statement. "As we have said since day one, we would welcome Will and his legal counsel’s cooperation in this process.
"With an NCAA inquiry, where it leads will depend on the level of cooperation with LSU and the NCAA. But, we have certainly made clear our desire to take this first step."
A text message to Wade seeking comment on the new development was not returned Thursday afternoon.
Citing multiple unnamed sources, the SI report says Wade and school officials are working toward a meeting to begin discussions that could potentially help Wade resume his coaching duties.
LSU's season ended with a loss to Michigan State last Friday in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, but the spring signing period begins April 17 — a critical date for the program long-term.
A meeting between Wade and athletic director Joe Alleva, which Alleva has said he's open to having, would be the first step in what the report describes as a multi-step process.
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Full cooperation from Wade would be a key to what might be a weeks-long series of interviews conducted by the NCAA and the school.
Wade was suspended indefinitely after declining to meet with Alleva, other school officials and NCAA investigators about an FBI wiretap in which Wade is heard talking with a convicted recruiting middleman.
LSU officials have said Wade will remain suspended until he speaks with them about the taped conversation with middleman and wannabe agent Christian Dawkins that was first reported by Yahoo Sports on March 7.
On the tape, Wade is believed to be talking about a "strong-ass offer" to current LSU guard Javonte Smart, who committed to Wade's program June 30, 2017.
A quick resolution for Wade and the school could be beneficial to the program for recruiting purposes, and for keeping the current players from scattering and leaving a skeleton roster for next season.
Already, star freshman Naz Reid has announced he is turning pro, although that likely would have happened even if Wade weren't suspended.
A McDonald's All-American and five-star recruit a year ago, Reid is projected by many to be a first-round pick in the NBA draft this June.
All-Southeastern Conference point guard Tremont Waters also announced Thursday he will enter his name in the NBA draft and hire an agent, ending his college career.
But keeping the rest of the team intact is the goal for interim coach Tony Benford and fellow assistants Greg Heiar and Bill Armstrong.
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Thompson, Wade's new attorney, has worked with other coaches on NCAA matters.
Arizona coach Sean Miller and Auburn's Bruce Pearl, who were caught in the probe of college basketball programs, are among Thompson's clients, SI.com reported.
Wade has been represented by New York attorney Michael McGovern.
The SI.com story also reported that university leaders, in the immediate aftermath of Wade's suspension, received dozens of emails from disgruntled and angry fans.
Many of the emails called for school administrators to resign or be fired while others announced plans to stop financially supporting LSU athletics.
Sports Illustrated obtained the emails through a public records request for correspondence received and sent by Alleva, university President F. King Alexander and members of the board of supervisors.
In a four-hour period following Wade's suspension, the SI.com report report said, LSU officials received more than 50 emails with just two showing support of the move.
More than half of the emails demanded that Alleva, Alexander — or both — resign or be fired, according to the report.
Read SI's full report here.