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LSU fires coach Will Wade, contends ’cause’ amid NCAA allegations

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Mar 10, 2022; Tampa, FL, USA; LSU Tigers head coach Will Wade against the Missouri Tigers during the second half at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2022; Tampa, FL, USA; LSU Tigers head coach Will Wade against the Missouri Tigers during the second half at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

LSU fired men’s basketball coach Will Wade on Saturday amid NCAA allegations of major recruiting violations.

In a statement, the university said Wade was fired for cause. Bill Armstrong also was terminated as associate head coach.

Earlier this week, it was reported that LSU had been notified of allegations by the NCAA’s Complex Case Unit within the Independent Accountability Review Process. The allegations stem from Wade getting caught on an FBI wiretap saying that he made a “strong-ass offer” to Javonte Smart, a player he was recruiting.

The subject of the wiretap, Christian Dawkins, was convicted on conspiracy and bribery charges in 2018 and 2019. He is serving time in a federal prison.

“The Notice contains serious allegations, including multiple charges alleging Coach Wade’s personal involvement in — or awareness of — Level I misconduct,” the university’s statement said. “After receiving the Notice earlier this week, we took several days to fully evaluate it and engage in deliberate and thoughtful discussions about our next steps. We can no longer subject our University, Department of Athletics, and — most importantly — our student-athletes, to this taxing and already-lengthy process without taking action. Our responsibility to protect and promote the integrity and well-being of our entire institution and our student-athletes will always be paramount.”

The statement was attributed to LSU president William F. Tate IV and athletic director Scott Woodward.

Wade has coached under a cloud since at least 2019, when the school suspended him before the SEC tournament. He was reinstated about two months later.

The Tigers (22-11) lost 79-67 to Arkansas on Friday in the Southeastern Conference tournament quarterfinals.

Assistant Kevin Nickelberry will serve as the interim head coach if, as expected, LSU receives an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. ESPN’s Bracketology had the Tigers as a No. 6 seed entering Saturday’s action.

Wade, 39, compiled a 108-53 record through five seasons in Baton Rouge, leading LSU to the NCAA Tournament in 2019 and 2021. He previously coached at VCU (2015-17) and Chattanooga (2013-15).

Smart eventually played for LSU under Wade from 2018-21, averaging 13.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Now 22, he’s on the roster of the Miami Heat.

–Field Level Media