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Is the NCAA a day late and a (billion) dollar(s) short on the Will Wade investigation? Should they be focused on bigger issues?
The infamous Will Wade.
He is notorious for sideline antics, explosive behavior, and relentless temper tantrums. This guy whines more than any two-year-old in America.
He harasses officials, spazzes on his team, and will make a “strong ass offer” to recruits.
Wade is a young, energetic guy paid millions of dollars to coach basketball. I respect that. However, watching him on TV is nothing short of cringeworthy.
He’s been in hot water for the past several years ever since the FBI heard him on a wiretap talking about a recruit.
If you’re not privy to this whole siutaiton, here’s the cliff notes version:
- 2014: Financial advisor Marty Blazer gets busted scamming clients out of large sums of money. To save himself, he snitches. He convinces the FBI he can help them uncover “fraud” in college basketball. He agrees to help the FBI identify sports agents, financial advisors and shoe companies paying players to attend certain schools. In 2014, players being paid by a third-party to attend a particular school made them ineligible. Therefore, universities were technically being “defrauded” by these third-parties into giving ineligible players scholarships. Which then in turn makes this NCAA violation, a violation of federal law.
- 2016: As a part of this investigation, Blazer roped in Christian Dawkins, a middle-man and aspiring sports agent. Dawkins collaborated with an undercover FBI agent (who he thought was a real estate tycoon) on plans to bribe college basketball coaches to encourage players to sign with their firm.
I don’t know the full details, but I know this is where Will Wade comes into play.
- 2017: During a wiretapped phone conversation, Wade discussed future LSU Tiger, Javonte Smart, when saying, “I was thinking last night on this Smart thing. I’ll be honest with you, I’m f—— tired of dealing with the thing. Like I’m just f—— sick of dealing with the s—. I went to him with a f—— strong-ass offer about a month ago. F—— strong. But the problem was, I know why he didn’t take it now, because it was it was f—— tilted toward the family a little bit. But I mean, it was a f—— hell of a f—— offer. Hell of an offer. Especially for a kid who is going to be a two- or three-year kid. I’ve made deals for a lot of players who are as good as him that were f—— a lot simpler than this.”
- 2019: Reports surface regarding the conversation about Smart
- 2020: The audio is released to the generaly public via an HBO special called “The Scheme” (listen to the clip here).
LSU suspended Wade from the 2019 SEC and NCAA tournaments upon receiving the information. The NCAA did not issue any further disciplinary action.
Per multiple reports, LSU has received notice of allegations from the NCAA for violations within men’s programs (including basketball). The university was surprised by these letters and will have a few weeks to respond.
I’m glad to see the NCAA is finally intervening. I started to think that “strong ass offer” Wade referenced was maybe just a full athletic scholarship.
But my question is, why now?
It seems as if the NCAA’s intervention in this matter is a day late and a dollar short. As much as I’m not a fan of Will Wade, I’d hate to see him receive additional consequences considering the new layout of college athletics.
The acts Wade committed in 2017 should’ve resulted in his termination. In 2022, those same acts aren’t necessarily a violation.
NCAA v. Alston
The NCAA suspended its amateurism rules related to student-athlete name, image, and likeness (NIL) compensation in 2021. This decision came on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling in NCAA v. Alston.
In essence, the “no-pay for play” philosophy that helped build college athletics into a billion-dollar industry was deemed unconstitutional.
Therefore, student-athletes can now legally receive “strong ass offers.”
Although schools aren’t supposed to use NIL money as a recruiting tool to sway athletes, the NCAA has no way to regulate this practice.
That became evident in the 2021-22 college football recruiting cycle.
Texas A&M allegedly signed the highest-ranked recruiting class ever off the strength of a $30 million NIL budget.
Don’t tell dry snitchin’ Jimbo Fisher; he thinks those kids came to College Station for the scenery and tradition.
The NIL deals combined with the transfer portal have turned college athletics into the “wild wild west.” And one thing is for sure–the NCAA has no control.
Suddenly, they want to punish the LSU men’s basketball program for a violation (that has since been abolished) committed in 2017.
Look, I’m not saying LSU isn’t a disaster right now and doesn’t deserve any sanctions. It just seems as if the NCAA could be spending its time more efficiently.
Instead of issuing notices for outdated allegations, how about orchestrating a plan to navigate and regulate the ensuing era of NIL deals, opt-outs, and the Transfer Portal?
A significant first step would be to start developing a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for college athletes.
You know, before it’s too late.