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LSU fires coach Will Wade over allegations of major NCAA violations over FBI bribery and recruiting investigation

LSU has fired basketball coach Will Wade for cause, the school announced Saturday. The development comes the same week the Tigers received notice of allegations from the NCAA stemming from alleged rule violations. during Wade’s five-year tenure. Associate head coach Bill Armstrong was also fired.

The school named assistant coach Kevin Nickelberry as the interim coach. Nickelberry is a former Hampton and Howard head coach. The Tigers are a projected No. 6 seed for the NCAA Tournament, according to CBS sports bracket expert Jerry Palm.

“After receiving the notice earlier this week, we have taken several days to fully evaluate it and engage in deliberate and thoughtful discussions about our next steps,” said LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward and President William Tate IV. in a press release. subjecting our university, our athletics department, and most importantly, our student-athletes, to this grueling 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 school’s case is being handled through the IARP process, an independent body designed to handle complicated cases of NCAA violations. Wade was suspended in March 2019 from his LSU coaching job after reports from a wiretapped conversation emerged that he had discussed a “strong” offer to a rookie, who was later identified as being JaVonte Smart.

the Notice of Allegations alleges that “Wade’s conduct was deliberate and committed after substantial planning” and details how he offered financial incentives to secure player commitments. As for Armstrong, the NOA alleges that “Wade condoned, participated in, or negligently ignored Armstrong’s conduct in recruiting a potential student-athlete.”

LSU went 105-51 (55-33 SEC) under Wade in five seasons. The 39-year-old former Chattanooga and VCU coach was suspended in 2019 when the Tigers reached the Sweet 16, which was their deepest post-season run during his tenure. However, he was reinstated shortly after the season after “answering all questions and denying any wrongdoing related to the recently reported allegations of college basketball recruiting improprieties,” according to an LSU statement to the press release. ‘era.

Wade’s firing comes four and a half years after an FBI crackdown on college basketball corruption that ensnared programs across the country Most of the head coaches involved kept their jobs even during the turmoil , even though some of their assistants have been hit with cause penalties by the NCAA.

But Wade’s voice on a 2017 FBI wiretap discussing the “strong ass offer” — a conversation that was later heard nationwide on an HBO documentary titled “The Scheme” — made him a sting face from the federal government. The LSU coach has caused angst in the sport over the slow workings of justice within the NCAA and made him the source of mockery at road sites.

During a November 2019 game at VCU, for example, several fans seated near the LSU bench wore fake FBI clothing.

In a scathing 2020 letter to the NCAA, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey lambasted the NCAA for its enforcement process, apparently writing that “current delays must be viewed as unacceptable, and rapid change is needed to appropriate accountability is applied in a timely manner. “

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