NEW ORLEANS — Will Wade was officially reinstated as the head coach of the LSU Tigers men's basketball team, the university announced on Sunday night.
Wade was suspended on March 8, following a report released by Yahoo News that detailed a phone conversation recorded by the FBI in which the coach discusses his efforts to lure a recruit to the Tigers.
The report said 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.
After his suspension, Wade said the reports out about the situation "do not begin to tell the full story." Regardless, he was out for LSU's run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA March Madness Tournament.
Throughout his suspension, it was not clear if the offer Wade discussed would violate NCAA rules, or if the player and his family knew of, or accepted, the offer.
This past Friday, Wade had met with university officials to discuss his future with the program. That meeting ended in an apparent 'no-decision,' but on Sunday, LSU Athletics Director and Vice Chancellor Joe Alleva released the following statement:
“The LSU Athletics Department today agreed to reinstate Will Wade as head coach of the Tiger basketball program. Coach Wade met Friday with University and NCAA officials. During those meetings, he answered all questions and denied any wrongdoing in connection with recently reported allegations of irregularities in college basketball recruiting.
“The University regrets that Coach Wade did not choose to fulfill his obligations to LSU when he was first asked to do so. However, the seriousness of the allegations and Coach Wade’s prior refusal to refute them could not be ignored without exposing the University and the basketball program to great risk. Protecting LSU and preserving our integrity must always be our first priority.
“Coach Wade's explanations and clarifications offered during the meeting, absent actual evidence of misconduct, satisfy his contractual obligation to LSU. Accordingly, I have recommended that Coach Wade's suspension be lifted and that he should be allowed to resume his coaching responsibilities. President Alexander has accepted this recommendation.”
LSU Athletics also released the following statement from Wade about his return:
"I am humbled and grateful to be back at LSU. I would like to express my appreciation to President F. King Alexander and Athletic Director Joe Alleva for my reinstatement, and I sincerely apologize to the university and our fans for the disruption to the University and the program.
"I regret the circumstances that prevented me from meeting with the University sooner. I wish I could have addressed these issues when the University first requested a meeting, and I’m grateful they gave me the opportunity to do so last week.
"I completely understand that without my denying or explaining the media reports accusing me of wrongdoing LSU was left with no choice but to suspend me until I was willing and able to meet with them. Any other course of action would have put the program and the University at risk.
"I look forward to re-joining the team right away. I intend to sit down with my student-athletes and co-workers to explain what has happened during the last 30 days and how I intend for us all to move forward.
“I promise to devote all of my energy into preparing for next season and finishing the job we have started at LSU.”
"Again, I'd like to thank the Board of Supervisors, President Alexander, Athletic Director Joe Alleva, our student-athletes, and our fans for this opportunity."