LSU fired men’s basketball coach Will Wade and associate head coach Bill Armstrong for cause Saturday, four days after the university received a detailed 17-page notice of allegations from the NCAA Complex Cases Unit of Independent Liability Resolution Process.
According to the notice of allegations obtained by The Advocate on Saturday through a public records request, 11 violations were described – seven of which relate solely to men’s basketball. Wade is tied to six of the seven allegations in the men’s basketball program and five of them are Level I violations. Armstrong is charged with one Level I violation and one Level II violation.
Additionally, LSU basketball shares blame with football in an additional Level I allegation that LSU “failed to exercise institutional control and oversight of the conduct and administration of its football and basketball programs- men’s ball” from February 2012 to June 2020.
Wade and Armstrong could receive show cause penalties for their conduct in the violations, as set out in the Notice of Intent. A justification penalty is the most severe penalty a coach can receive from the NCAA, effectively preventing them from coaching for a period of time.
LSU President William F. Tate IV and athletic director Scott Woodward released a statement on Saturday, writing that “Our decision to fire Coach Wade and Coach Armstrong is not an acknowledgment of agreement with any of the allegations. .”
Tate and Woodward added in the statement that after receiving the approval notice earlier this week, those involved in the decision-making process took several days to consider the details outlined in the approval notice. approval to determine their next steps.
“We can no longer subject our university, our athletics department and, above all, our student-athletes to this trying and already long process without taking action,” they wrote. “Our responsibility to protect and promote the integrity and well-being of our entire institution and our student-athletes will always be paramount.”
Several attempts to reach Wade failed. In interviews with the NCAA CCU, Wade denied all allegations.
Wade and Armstrong were fired after the LSU basketball team landed in Baton Rouge shortly after 12:30 p.m. The coaches had an in-person meeting with Woodward and Tate, per source.
LSU lost Friday in the SEC Tournament to Arkansas, but the Tigers are expected to be a lock to make the NCAA Tournament with their 22-11 record. LSU will still compete if selected.
Assistant coach Kevin Nickelberry will take on interim coaching duties for the playoffs, just like former assistant Tony Benford did when Wade was suspended for 37 days in 2018-19.
Wade was suspended at the end of the 2018-19 season after Yahoo Sports detailed a wiretapped conversation between him and Christian Dawkins, a now convicted middleman. The conversation recorded by the FBI included Wade speaking openly about a “solid offer” he made when recruiting former LSU guard and Baton Rouge native Javonte Smart in 2017.
This specific allegation is described in the charge notice as the first of seven charges against the basketball team and was determined to be a Level I violation. In the charge, the CCU wrote in this case that Wade “violated principles of ethical conduct and/or offered impermissible recruiting inducements in the form of cash payments and offers of employment in order to obtain” an anonymous recruit, which would be smart.
Wade, at the time, was not suspended because of the reports, but rather because he and his attorney refused to meet with LSU and NCAA officials about the reports. Wade’s alleged insubordination and refusal to cooperate lasted much longer than those 37 days, according to the ANP, which is also a Level I violation.
During the NCAA’s investigation into several instances of basketball team misconduct, Wade “violated the NCAA’s Principles of Ethical Conduct and failed to cooperate with the investigation” on numerous allegations, including four violations described in the notice of intent and “a number of other allegations” the NCAA was unable to fully substantiate.
Wade, according to the NOA, has been repeatedly asked to produce thousands of records and he has declined, only doing so on August 20, 2021, nearly three years after the NCAA first requested them. CCU wrote that Wade’s delay “was unwarranted and hindered” the NCAA’s investigation, even after “several allegations surfaced publicly in the media.”
Additionally, Wade allegedly paid money to an unnamed former fiancée of an LSU athlete in exchange for her silence regarding Wade’s payments to players.
The woman texted Wade on July 25, 2017, saying “I know you’ve been giving money to some of your new recruits as well,” then she went on to say “my trainer I work with has spoken to a few (people) in the basketball world and offered me money to talk.(Please) contact me by the end of the day or I will have to accept the offer.Wade replied telling him to call her.
Two days later, the woman texted “I need 5 more. … Put it in the same account. Then the next day she texted, asking Wade to ‘send 9 more. “You’ve done your part now, I have to do mine and make sure this doesn’t spill out,” the woman said.
However, payment for “9” appears not to have been made, as the woman texted Wade a few days later asking if he had seen her message. Wade replied, “Yeah, I did. I thought we were done.
The woman said she needed more money than originally expected. “We’ll be done (with) everything after this,” she said. Wade responded the next day, August 1, 2017, saying, “I’m sorry you’re having money issues. You said we were done after the last transfer I sent, so in my mind we are done.
The texts concerning the payment to the woman, found the CCU, coincided with the commitment of another prospect. The NCAA determined this to be a Level I violation that could result in a cause penalty for Wade.
In another allegation involving Wade, he allegedly paid an unknown sum in April 2018 to an anonymous man for his services to act as an unauthorized recruiter for an anonymous player. The money, according to the allegation, came out of a bank account in the name of Wade’s wife. Wade and his wife, Lauren, supposedly treated it as a joint account. The NCAA determined this to be a Level I violation that could result in a cause penalty for Wade.
The Level I allegation involving Armstrong came after Wade was suspended. Between February and June 2020, Armstrong reportedly offered $300,000 in cash in an effort to entice an unnamed international athlete to commit to LSU. Additionally, Armstrong reportedly promised a car for the athlete’s cousin, a scholarship for a friend, and assistance with obtaining visas for the player and/or his family and other associates in an effort to entice the athlete to engage. According to the ANO, this was done with Wade’s knowledge and is a Level I violation that could result in a cause penalty for Armstrong.
In addition to the Level I violation regarding Wade’s alleged lack of cooperation and Level I violations for specific rule violations, Wade was also charged with an additional Level I violation because he was found responsible. specific misconduct regarding ineligible benefits to potential players. and/or close to them – which also carries the potential for “head coaching restrictions”.
The Level II allegation includes both Wade and Armstrong, and they allegedly had impermissible in-person contact with a potential player’s parents. Wade and Armstrong went to watch a high school state basketball tournament, which included a game featuring the player in question. After the game, Wade and Armstrong met the family at a restaurant. The reason this was a Level II violation rather than a lower category was due to several factors, including how the meeting was organized and initiated by Wade and Armstrong. For this reason, the instance could order a justification penalty for Wade and/or Armstrong.
Although LSU fired Wade, the case will continue. LSU has several weeks to respond to the Notice of Allegations, and once the IARP responds, a hearing will be scheduled to determine penalties. The IARP’s final decision is final.
Writer Sheldon Mickles contributed to this report.