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Governor John Bel Edwards responds to a question about the controversy surrounding LSU men's basketball coach Will Wade, after Edwards spoke on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 to urge members of the La. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to endorse his plan to boost teacher salaries by $1,000 per year and state aid for public schools by $39 million.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday morning he cannot disagree with the decision to suspend LSU men's basketball coach Will Wade after the coach declined to meet with school leaders over Wade's comments on an FBI wiretap.

"That is a very tough decision that they made and I will tell you that as I understand it from information I received from President (F. King) Alexander, the decision to suspend him was made after he did not come to a meeting on last Friday to at least give his version of events," Edwards told reporters.

"And so it is hard for me to disagree with that decision under those circumstances, although I will tell you that it is my fervent hope that Coach Wade has a way to clear this up and make sure that everyone understands fully that nothing inappropriate happened, the player involved, his eligibility gets restored and so forth," he said.


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The governor referred to LSU guard Javonte Smart, who was held out of Saturday's Southeastern Conference championship-clinching game for what LSU officials called an "abundance of caution."

Smart's name was mentioned by Wade in a 2017 wiretapped conversation with college basketball middleman Christian Dawkins.

Reports said Wade discussed an offer to Smart in the conversation with Dawkins.

Smart's playing status for the SEC and NCAA tournaments is unclear.

"It is my hope that we can past this in short order," Edwards said. "Like everybody else I am a huge LSU fan and this is the best year we have had in many, many years in terms of our basketball program."

The governor was at Saturday's game when LSU handily defeated Vanderbilt to win the conference championship.

Asked if Wade can resume his coaching duties Edwards said, "Certainly it is possible."

"He has been suspended, he has not been terminated," he added.

"And it just depends on the facts as they come out and what his version of events is and so forth. Obviously that is possible."

"But I can't make a prediction here today," Edwards said. 

"This is something for the president of the university but also the athletic director and the Board of Supervisors," he said.

"They are the primary players in this along with the coach," Edwards said. "We have to see how this plays out."

The governor made his comments after appearing before Louisiana's top school board on his proposal to boost teacher pay by $1,000 and $500 for support workers.


Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.