BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU has suspended head basketball coach Will Wade in the midst of a Yahoo! report that said he was taped telling a middleman that he had made a 'big offer' to a recruit.
The suspension comes just as LSU is likely on the cusp of winning an SEC title for the first time in years.
The school issued a statement that said:
"Recent media reports regarding coach Will Wade are without question concerning to all of us. As such, we and university officials have taken deliberate and purposeful steps to fairly address and adequately address this situation. As we have done since media reports first surfaced months ago, we are closely coordinating with the NCAA with ever step. They have our full cooperation and we will continue to report to them all the facts and information on this matter.
"All of us at LSU share the obligation to protect the integrity of this institution, as such we have suspended Head Coach Will Wade indefinitely until such time as we can ensure full compliance with the NCAA, as well as institutional policies and standards. Assistant coach Tony Benford will assume the duties of interim coach."
The suspension comes after a Yahoo report detailing a phone conversation recorded by the FBI in which Wade discusses his efforts to lure a recruit to the Tigers.
The report says the FBI recording is of a conversation with Christian Dawkins, who is one of several people convicted in October of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for funneling illegal payments to families of recruits to Louisville, Kansas and North Carolina State.
In the report, Wade is described expressing his frustration with an unidentified third party handling the recruitment of player referred to only as "Smart." LSU has a freshman guard named Javonte Smart who is a former Louisiana high school player of the year.
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The report also states that it is not clear if the offer Wade discusses would violate NCAA rules, or if the player and his family knew of, or accepted, the offer.
Tulane Sports Law Professor Gabe Feldman says LSU did the right thing in suspending Wade.
"It certainly was the safe thing to do until they determine what actually transpired as best as possible because the longer he coaches the more exposure, the more liability there is for the school," he said.
The Tigers finish up their regular season at home against Vanderbilt on Saturday with a chance to win the SEC's regular-season title. School officials have said that the team will not sit out for the SEC or NCAA tournaments.
Former UNO Athletic Director Ron Maestri says that's the right move.
"These kids have worked all year and how fair is it to the student body and how fair is it for the people who support the program. It's a dilemma," Maestri said.
Feldman added that if the allegations are proven, LSU could lose games and scholarships. There could also be criminal charges.
"There's wire fraud, there's just a series of different criminal charges that have been brought against the folks involved in these cases," he said.
Coach Will Wade has not been charged with any crimes.