Following LSU’s decision to suspend Will Wade, outside of AD Joe Alleva and president F. King Alexander, no one drew more criticism in Baton Rouge than ESPN’s Dick Vitale.
The longtime ESPN college basketball analyst made it very clear how appalled he was by the allegations made against Wade following the original explosive report from Yahoo! Sports claiming the LSU coach had secured the commitment of Javante Smart by illegal means. Vitale’s comments struck a nerve with LSU fans, particularly after the ESPN analyst continues to stick up for former Louisville coach Rick Pitino following his dismissal at Louisville.
Now that Wade has been reinstated at LSU, public enemy No. 1 for many Tiger fans joined Baton Rouge-based ESPN 104.5 FM program “Off the Bench” on Monday to discuss the big news of the weekend — Wade’s return to the bench for the Tigers.
“Obviously, they met with (Wade), he should have met with them initially, he’s very fortunate,” Vitale said on the show. “Think about this, they could have fired him then and there on insubordination. Forget about the charges with the situation with the wiretap, but the fact that you refuse to meet with the president, refuses to meet with an AD, if they really wanted to play hardball, they could have ended it right there.
“But I think there was clear, I don’t think there’s any doubt they had to suspend him. I know you guys don’t agree with me on that — that’s okay. Based on his comments, based on that wiretap, they had no choice. They had no choice whatsoever. They would have been crushed, crucified the university about a lack of integrity and all that, so they had to suspend him. I thought they were very fair, they sat back, eventually gave him the opportunity to come before them and obviously I wasn’t there, you weren’t there, we don’t know what transpired but I guess there’s total denial on his part and unless you can prove there was cash laid out, I guess legally he has an argument and they felt that way and they reinstated him.”
Vitale then went on to discuss the sad state of college basketball and the rampant corruption that has plagued the sport before being asked to clarify his belief that Pitino deserves another shot to coach in college basketball. Incredibly, Vitale goes on to explain how Pitino has been made an example of and should be back in college basketball despite the many allegations made against him during his time at Louisville.
While Vitale may not have been the only critic of Wade following the Yahoo! Sports story, he does appear to be one of the last few media members willing to call for Pitino to get yet another chance in college basketball.