By Ed Daniels, Clarion Herald Sports
This was not the first press conference that reporters attended where they knew the answers before the questions were asked.
And, so it was on a Tuesday at the SEC meetings in Sandestin, Florida, LSU men’s basketball coach Will Wade was to make his first public comments since he was suspended and reinstated by the university after a report of an FBI wiretap. You know, the one detailing Wade making “a strong offer” to a recruit, believed to be freshman guard Javonte Smart.
Wade admitted to mistakes, among them refusing to meet with LSU officials, something he did later. So, Wade was asked about the “strong offer,” a question he knew was coming. And, he had his answer ready to go.
“I understand you have to ask that. I can’t get into that,” said Wade.
Wade then cited confidentiality, saying he could not disclose what he discussed with university and NCAA officials. Wade was roasted by the national media.
My question is: What did you expect him to say? Did you think he would get into details about what he allegedly said on a wiretap? Of course not.
As I sat in the back of the room listening to the press conference, I wondered if there was as much outrage expressed when some college basketball blue-blood programs ran into off-the-court difficulty?
Where was the outrage when the University of North Carolina was found to have provided fake classes to athletes to gain their eligibility and stay eligible? The NCAA ruled there were no penalties because no rules were broken. After all, those fake classes were available to all.
In an April report, the Arizona Republic noted that an investigation into alleged corruption in college basketball has gone on for two years. University of Arizona coach Sean Miller has been connected in media reports to possible payments; yet, Miller is still employed. Why? Because there is no proof. At least, not yet.
There is no glossing over Wade being reportedly caught on a federal wiretap. At best, it is a very bad look for LSU.
Wade’s contract was amended as part of his reinstatement. If he is implicated in any Level 1 or Level 2 NCAA violation, he can be terminated with cause. Who knows if that happens? Who knows what Wade told LSU and the NCAA in their meetings? Who knows if the NCAA ever launches a formal investigation of LSU basketball?
If Wade is implicated, he will be terminated. It is that simple.
Wade did deny a report that he had “a $300,000 offer” for LSU freshman star Naz Reid, who has declared for the NBA draft.
“My name came up again in the latest testimony in the latest trial. I said I am not going to get into addressing every media report,” Wade told reporters. “Some of them are so far out there, it doesn’t warrant me giving credence to it. But, I will say this on the latest report that wasn’t covered in my meeting with LSU. It is absolutely false and did not happen.”
Wade said one day he hopes to have “full disclosure” about what was said in that meeting with LSU. Who knows if that day ever arrives. And, who knows how long Wade survives, especially when he is now working for an athletic director who did not hire him and to whom he has no allegiance.
But, there is one thing reporters in Wade’s press conference should have known and expected. Wade knew the questions were coming, and he was sticking to his script.
There was only so much Wade could and would say. Which should surprise no one.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.