LSU fired men’s basketball coach Will Wade and assistant coach Bill Armstrong for a reason Saturday, four days after the university received a detailed 17-page notice of the allegations from the NCAA’s Complex Case Unit for the Independent Accountability Resolution Process.
According to a notice of allegations obtained by The Advocate Saturday through a public records request, 11 violations have been identified — seven of which relate solely to men’s basketball. Wade is linked to six of the seven allegations in the men’s basketball program, five of which are level one infractions. Armstrong is charged with one level one violation and one level two violation.
In addition, LSU basketball wrongly shares with football an additional Level 1 allegation that LSU “failed to exercise institutional oversight and to monitor the conduct and administration of men’s football and basketball programs” from February 2012 through June 2020.
Both Wade and Armstrong could receive incidental penalties for their conduct of the violations, as outlined in NOA. The appearance penalty is the harshest penalty a coach can receive from the NCAA, which prevents that person from training for a period of time.
LSU President William F. Tate IV and athletic director Scott Woodward issued a statement Saturday.
“Our decision to fire coach Wade and coach Armstrong is not an admission of agreement with any of the allegations,” they wrote.
Tate Woodward added in the statement that after they received the NOA earlier this week, participants in the decision-making process took several days to delve into the details outlined in NOA to determine their next steps.
“We can no longer subject our university, the athletics department, and most importantly – our student-athletes, to this already long tax process without taking any action,” they wrote. “Our responsibility to protect and promote the integrity and well-being of our entire organization and our student-athletes will always be of paramount importance.”
Numerous attempts to reach a valley were unsuccessful. In interviews with the National Civil Aviation Authority’s Complex Cases Unit, Wade denied all allegations.
Wade and Armstrong were fired after the LSU basketball team landed in Baton Rouge just after 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The coaches had a personal encounter with Woodward and Tate, per source.
LSU lost Friday in the SEC tournament to Arkansas, but the Tigers are a supposed lock to make the NCAA Championship with their 22-11 record. LSU will continue to compete if selected.
Assistant coach Kevin Nickelberry will take over as interim post-season coach, just as former assistant coach Tony Benford did when Wade was suspended for 37 days in 2018-2019.
Wade was suspended at the end of the 2018-2019 season after Yahoo Sports detailed a wiretapping conversation between him and now-convicted middle man Christian Dawkins. The conversation recorded by the FBI included Wade speaking publicly about a “strong show” he made in recruiting a former LSU guard and Javonte Smart from Baton Rouge in 2017.
This specific allegation was identified in NOA as the first of the seven counts against the basketball team, and was determined to be a Level 1 violation. In the charge, the Complex Case Unit wrote in this case that Wade “violated principles of ethical behavior and/or offered impermissible recruitment inducements in the form of cash payments and job offers in order to secure” an unnamed, believed intelligent recruit.
Wade was not suspended at the time because of the reports, but instead because he and his legal counsel declined to meet with LSU and NCAA officials in connection with the reports. Wade’s alleged mutiny and failure to cooperate spanned much longer than those 37 days, according to NOA, and is also a Level 1 violation.
During the NCAA’s investigation into multiple cases of misconduct within the basketball team, Wade violated “the NCAA Principles of Ethical Conduct and failed to cooperate in an investigation” into several allegations, including four specific violations in NOA and “a number of other allegations” The NCAA has not been able to fully prove this.
Wade, according to NOAA management, was repeatedly asked to produce thousands of records, but declined, only to do so on August 20, 2021, nearly three years after the NCAA requested her. The Complicated Cases Unit wrote that Wade’s delay “was unjustified and obstructed” the NCAA’s investigation, even after “several allegations surfaced publicly in the media.”
Additionally, Wade allegedly paid an unnamed ex-fiancé to LSU athletes in exchange for her silence about Wade’s payments to players.
The woman texted Wade on July 25, 2017, saying, “I know you also gave money to some new recruits,” then followed up by saying, “My coach I work with has spoken to a few (people) in the basketball world and they gave me money to speak. (Please) call me by the end of the day or I will have to accept the offer.” Wade responded by telling her to call him.
Two days later, the woman texted, “I need 5 more. … put it in the same account.” Then the next day, she texted, telling Wade to “send 9” more.
“You’ve done your part now, I have to do my part and make sure this doesn’t come out,” said the woman.
However, it appears that the “9” was not paid, because the woman texted Wade a few days later to ask if he had seen her message. Wade replied, “Yes I did. I thought we were done.”
The woman said she needed more money than was initially discussed. “We’ll finish everything after that,” she said.
Wade responded the next day, August 1, 2017, by saying “I’m sorry you’re having financial issues. You said we were finished after the last transfer you sent, so in my opinion we are done.”
The Complex Case Unit found that the texts regarding payment for the woman coincided with another potential obligation. The NCAA determined that this was a Level 1 violation that could result in a penalty to Wade.
In another allegation relating to Wade, he allegedly paid an undisclosed amount in April 2018 to an unnamed man for his services to act as an unauthorized recruiter for an unnamed player. The money, according to the claim, came from a bank account in the name of Wade’s wife. Presumably, Wade and his wife Lauren treated it as a joint account. The NCAA determined that this was a Level 1 violation that could result in a penalty to Wade.
The Level 1 allegations regarding Armstrong came after Wade was suspended. Between February and June of 2020, Armstrong allegedly offered $300,000 in cash in a bid to get an unnamed international athlete to commit to LSU. In addition, Armstrong allegedly promised a car to the athlete’s cousin, a scholarship to a friend, and help in securing visas for the player and/or his family and other partners in an effort to get the athlete to make the commitment. According to NOA, this was done with Wade’s knowledge and is a Level 1 violation that could result in Armstrong’s accidental penalty.
On top of the Level 1 breach related to Wade’s alleged lack of cooperation and Level 1 breaches for specific rule violations, an additional Level 1 breach was imposed on Wade because he was considered responsible for specific misconduct related to benefits not allowed to potential players and/or their proximity – which holds Also the possibility of “lead coach limitations”.
The second level claim includes both Wade and Armstrong, and they allegedly had unauthorized personal contact with the parents of a potential player. Wade and Armstrong went to watch a high school state basketball tournament, which featured a game that featured the player in question. After the match, Wade and Armstrong met the family at a restaurant. The reason why this was a Level 2 Violation rather than a lower class Violation was due to multiple factors, including how the meeting had been prearranged and initiated by Wade and Armstrong. For this reason, the example could order a show penalty for Wadi and/or Armstrong.
Despite LSU’s release of Wade, the affair will continue. LSU has several weeks to respond to the notice of the allegations, and once the independent accountability resolution process responds, there will be a hearing scheduled to determine penalties. The IARP’s final ruling cannot be appealed.
Author Sheldon Michaels contributed to this report.