That’s the basic gist of what transpired today on the LSU campus, as the basketball program and the athletic department scrambled a little to respond to the rather flimsy Yahoo! Sports piece by Pete Thamel insinuating that Tiger hoops coach Will Wade was a dirty recruiter.
LSU officials can be excused for being a bit on edge about such allegations. After all, any college athletic program would freak out a little over being branded as a cheater, and with the slow-motion train wreck which is the FBI investigation into sports agent Andy Miller and his relationship with the seedy world of AAU basketball, which spat out a fresh round of damaging revelations last week, things are on a razor’s edge across the country.
It doesn’t help that two former LSU players, Tim Quarterman and Jarell Martin, were named in a document originating from Miller’s agency outlining cash payments to college hoopsters. So far, there is no evidence LSU had any knowledge of payments to any of its players and even less evidence anyone at LSU, including former head basketball coach Johnny Jones, arranged those payments. That would be a big difference between LSU and, say, Arizona, whose head coach Sean Miller is likely finished after it was revealed the FBI has a tape of the coach discussing the use of AMG as a go-between by which some $100,000 would be paid to star recruit Deandre Ayton, arguably the best college player in the country this year.
It would clearly be an insult to Wade and LSU to be mentioned along with Arizona at this point, and yet that’s what Thamel did with his piece on Sunday.
And LSU responded to the insult by, in as polite and diplomatic fashion as possible, asserting that Thamel is a hack and a liar.
On the day after Yahoo Sports reported NCAA enforcement officials have been looking into LSU basketball coach Will Wade’s recruiting tactics, the Tigers’ first-year coach said Monday there the school has had “zero contact” with the NCAA.
Earlier in the day, the LSU athletic department issued a statement saying it “confirmed with NCAA officials that there is no active investigation into the men’s basketball program” that Wade took over last March.
“The facts are there’s been zero inquiries, there’s been zero contact by the NCAA to me, my staff, my players, our administration, our school,” Wade said in opening his twice-weekly news conference. “There’s been zero inquiries or contact made by the NCAA.”
Earlier Monday, VCU, where Wade was the head coach for two seasons before accepting his current post, released a statement denying any NCAA investigation into recruiting irregularities while he was there.
The statements came in response to a Yahoo Sports report Sunday night that NCAA enforcement has been looking into Wade’s recruiting tactics for the past six months. The report said the investigation included his time at VCU.
“LSU has confirmed with NCAA officials that there is no active investigation into the men’s basketball program. LSU Athletics stands for full compliance and partnership with the NCAA and the SEC,” the school’s statement read.
That’s polite, isn’t it? LSU goes and disproves the central allegation in Thamel’s piece, namely that the NCAA had been looking into the basketball program and Wade – but spares Thamel a calling out by name.
Here was Wade in his press conference…