The Southeastern Conference’s No. 1 seed in the league tournament currently does not have its coach after LSU announced last week it had suspended Will Wade indefinitely after a Yahoo! Sports report was released alleging that the FBI has audio of the coach paying to secure the commitment of one of his current players.
That player, Javante Smart, has also been suspended following the release of the story.
Now, however, Wade is pushing back on his suspension. In a lengthy statement released the eve of LSU’s appearance in the 2019 SEC Tournament, Wade is asking LSU to allow him to return to the team and for due process. It’s clear based on his statement, Wade sees he has public support from those in Baton Rouge and may be using that to his advantage here.
Here is the statement released by Wade on Thursday, which was first shared by Jacques Doucet of WAFB Sports in Baton Rouge:
“This morning, I advised President Alexander, Athletic Director Joe Alleva and the LSU Board of Supervisors that I would like to resume my duties as Head Basketball Coach. Last week, when the University decided to place me on administrative leave, I accepted the decision without complaint as I knew that they wanted time to reflect on the flurry of media reports. With the benefit of a week to consider the circumstances, I believe University officials should allow me to resume my duties.
“I understand that in today’s hyper-intense media environment it is extremely difficult for any organization, particularly a public university, to stand firm in the face of rumors, leaks and innuendo. In this case, the simple truth is I have been placed on leave because I exercised my right not to submit to a joint LSU/NCAA interview on the exact same subject matter at issue in an impending federal criminal trial in New York. My legal counsel advised the University that it would be wholly inappropriate for me, or anyone, to submit to an interview under these circumstances.
“Declining to be interviewed was a difficult decision for me, as I would like to cooperate fully with all parties, particularly LSU. To be clear, however, all I’ve done is follow the prudent advice of counsel to exercise my constitutional rights to due process. Given these facts, I don’t believe it is appropriate for me to be relieved of my duties. We have a great basketball program made up of excellent student athletes and quality coaches. The players who’ve given their all for this institution, the students and alumni who are devoted to LSU, and fans all across Lousiana and beyond deserve to see this team fulfill its destiny. I love LSU and everything it stands for. What I’m asking for is the right to constitutional rights. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”