A resolution to the month-long stalemate between LSU and men's basketball coach Will Wade could finally be near.
At least there will be a face-to-face meeting as the two sides will sit down with NCAA officials Friday, a school official confirmed Thursday afternoon.
Exactly five weeks after being suspended for declining to speak with his superiors about an FBI wiretap on which he talks of a "strong-ass" offer with a recruiting middleman, Wade will meet with LSU and NCAA officials.
News of the meeting, which could start the process to ending the impasse, was first reported by Sports Illustrated.
LSU senior associate athletic director Robert Munson confirmed to The Advocate that a meeting was scheduled for Friday. The time of the meeting was not specified.
“I can confirm there is a meeting scheduled (Friday) with Coach Wade, LSU officials and the NCAA within the parameters LSU first requested in early March," Munson said in a statement. "University officials have made clear their expectation for full cooperation and transparency in this first step in a process toward resolution.
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"With an NCAA inquiry, where it leads will depend on the level of cooperation with LSU and the NCAA," Munson said last week. "But we have certainly made clear our desire to take this first step."
Wade did not respond Thursday to a text message from The Advocate.
When he was suspended, he declined to comment on the reported wiretaps except to say “they do not begin to tell the full story” in a statement.
“I understand the university had to take action before all the facts are in,” Wade said in the statement, “but I would ask everyone to withhold their judgment until the record is complete.”
The timing of Friday's meeting is critical because the start of the spring signing period is Wednesday.
Coaches were able to again start meeting with potential recruits Thursday following a one-week quiet period for the Final Four.
Also, five players from the LSU team — which won its first Southeastern Conference regular-season title in a decade and advanced to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 for the first time since 2006 — have entered the NBA draft, although it's possible some could return after testing the waters.
Interim coach Tony Benford and fellow assistant Greg Heiar both said during the team's NCAA tournament run that their first objective was to keep the team from scattering as much as possible while the stalemate between Wade and LSU continued.
The 36-year-old Wade was suspended March 8, one day after Yahoo Sports reported he was heard on a wire-tapped conversation with convicted recruiting middleman Christian Dawkins, an aspiring sports agent who has admitted to steering cash payoffs to basketball recruits and their families, about a "strong-ass offer" for a recruit believed to be current LSU guard Javonte Smart.
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That story came out 10 days after Yahoo Sports reported Wade was widely expected to be subpoenaed as a defense witness in Dawkins' upcoming trial on federal bribery and wire fraud charges.
The trial is set to begin April 22 in New York City.
The criminal case stems from a wide-ranging FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball that was unveiled publicly in September 2017.
It's widely believed Wade did not want to speak to school officials and NCAA investigators because of a potential subpoena hanging over his head.
Answering detailed questions about his recruiting tactics or wiretapped conversations with Dawkins could complicate Wade's legal situation, or potentially undermine his ability to refuse to answer questions on the witness stand by invoking the Fifth Amendment, several former federal prosecutors who aren't involved in the case told The Advocate.
Wade publicly pleaded with LSU to continue coaching without addressing the wiretaps until after the federal criminal case concludes.
But LSU officials dug in during a meeting with The Advocate's editorial board March 13, saying Wade would remain sidelined as long as he refused to talk with them about the reported FBI wiretaps.
Federal prosecutors last Friday asked the judge overseeing the case to block defense efforts to call Wade and other coaches, including Arizona's Sean Miller, as witnesses.
With Benford at the helm, the Tigers went 3-2 to wrap up the season, its second under Wade, with a 28-7 overall record and No. 12 ranking in The Associated Press' final poll.
The Tigers defeated Vanderbilt to clinch the SEC regular-season title. They lost to Florida in their first game in the SEC tournament, then went 2-1 in the NCAA tournament.
While Wade's staff carried on in his absence following a season-ending, 80-63 loss to Michigan State in the Sweet 16 on March 29, the chances for a meeting seemed to increase dramatically in the past week.
Wade recently hired the same Chicago-based attorney, Steven Thompson, that Miller has to represent him in dealings with the NCAA and LSU. Thompson has also represented Auburn's Bruce Pearl in NCAA matters.
LSU officials said they worked with the NCAA to interview Smart and members of his inner circle about the wiretaps, and the NCAA cleared him to play just two hours before the Tigers' SEC tournament opener with Florida.
Smart announced on his Instagram account Thursday morning he was applying for the NBA draft. The Scotlandville High grad was joined later in the day by freshman forward Emmitt Williams.
Freshman forward Naz Reid, sophomore guard Tremont Waters and junior guard Skylar Mays all put their names in last week.