McNeese State suspends Will Wade: Former LSU coach will sit at beginning of 2023-24 season

Two days after formally introducing him as its next men’s basketball coach, McNeese State has suspended Will Wade for the first five games of the 2023-24 season. Wade’s suspension was agreed to as part of his contract, though it was not shared during his initial press conference on Sunday

Wade, who was LSU’s coach from 2017-22, was fired for cause a year ago following allegations of improper recruiting and inducement tactics. LSU received a Notice of Allegations charging Wade with five Level I violations and another Level II violation. Most notable among the allegations was Wade’s “strong-ass” offer to a prospective student-athlete prior to the name, image and likeness (NIL) era, which was caught on federal wiretaps. The recruit later committed to LSU.

Writing a suspension into Wade’s contract may well be a proactive move by McNeese State to try to appease the IARP, the body conducting the investigation into LSU and Wade’s alleged misdeeds. The IARP still has not levied punishments in the case, but multiple Level I violations puts Wade at risk of facing a show-cause penalty. Hiring Wade was largely seen as a controversial move, but suspending Wade could be seen as an olive branch to the IARP in an effort to try to mitigate any additional punishment.

“As we’ve gone through this process of hiring our next basketball coach, we did our due diligence. We took our time, we made sure we were going to find the right person,” said McNeese State president Dr. Daryl V. Burckel in Wade’s introductory press conference. “I can tell you that we have found the right man to lead us back to where we really need to be in basketball.”

Wade was asked about the ongoing investigation in the same press conference but could not provide a substantial update. It’s unclear when, or if, he will face additional consequences dating to his time at LSU.

“I can’t really touch on the process because it’s still ongoing,” said Wade. “When you look at the totality of some of the other rulings so far — I will say, the university did an unbelievable amount of due diligence, an unbelievable amount, meeting with attorneys, all sorts of folks — I think we’re excited about the future here and feel good about things going forward.”

“I can’t really go into great detail but I will tell you this: when coach says “due diligence,” I mean, I and my committee, we did an extremely extreme amount of due diligence,” added McNeese State athletic director Heath Schroyer. “I’m confident where we are and I believe in coach, I believe in the process. Obviously we can’t comment completely about the process, but I did an unbelievable amount of due diligence, and I’m very confident and very excited that Coach Wade is our coach.”

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