McNeese St. coach Will Wade gets 10-game suspension

Former LSU and current McNeese State men's basketball coach Will Wade was given a two-year show-cause order and a 10-game suspension for three Level I violations, the Independent Accountability Resolution Process announced Thursday.

Wade was found to have made impermissible payments to the former fiancée of a player, while also failing to cooperate in an investigation and failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

LSU football was hit with one Level I violation for failing to monitor a representative of athletics interests, which resulted in impermissible benefits paid to the father of a former player. The football program and men's basketball program each received a Level II violation for failure to monitor.

Both programs had previously self-imposed penalties, including a postseason ban in 2020-21 for the football program and heavy recruiting restrictions for the men's basketball program. The IARP on Thursday placed both programs on three years' probation.

LSU had been under investigation since the federal investigation into college basketball became public in September 2017. The NCAA referred the case to the IARP in September 2020.

LSU fired Wade on the eve of the 2022 NCAA tournament after the school received a notice of allegations from the NCAA detailing five Level I violations and a Level II violation involving Wade. He was also suspended shortly before the 2019 NCAA tournament after reports revealed that a federal wiretap captured him discussing a "strong-ass offer" for a recruit.

LSU president William F. Tate IV and athletic director Scott Woodward issued a joint statement, saying they were "pleased that our current men's basketball student-athletes will not be punished for the acts of others" and that the panel accepted self-imposed football penalties.

"We are grateful to the members of the panel for their time and fairness," they said. "LSU is now moving forward along with our passionate fans supporting our current coaches and student-athletes in both men's basketball and football."

Former associate men's basketball head coach Bill Armstrong was also accused of one Level I violation and one Level II violation. LSU terminated Armstrong's contract the same day it fired Wade. On Thursday, the hearing panel said it did not have enough credible evidence to find any violations for Armstrong.

According to documents obtained by ESPN in August 2020, the NCAA's enforcement staff received information that Wade "arranged for, offered and/or provided impermissible payments, including cash payments, to at least 11 men's basketball prospective student-athletes, their family members, individuals associated with the prospects and/or non-scholastic coaches in exchange for the prospects' enrollment at LSU."

Wade was at LSU for five seasons, guiding the Tigers to the 2019 SEC title and three straight NCAA tournament appearances to end his tenure.

McNeese State hired Wade in March in a deal that included a five-game suspension to open the season and recruiting restrictions. According to the contract obtained by KPLC in Louisiana, Wade isn't allowed to recruit off-campus until August -- meaning he didn't go out during the April live evaluation period and won't be out during the June or July live evaluation periods -- and is banned from recruiting conversations and hosting unofficial visits for six weeks from Sept. 1 to Oct. 15.

In a statement posted to its athletics site, McNeese State said the penalty would replace a five-game suspension and one-year show-cause penalty it had imposed after Wade's hiring.

"We accept and respect today's decision by the IARP in regards to Coach Wade," athletic director Heath Schroyer said. "We are all happy this is finally behind us and we have clarity moving forward. We have been proactive from the beginning in respecting the NCAA's process and in regards to protecting the integrity of our institution. That will not change moving forward.

"The enthusiasm around this program is at an all-time high and we are all excited about the future of McNeese Basketball with [Wade] leading the way."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.