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Joe Alleva Reinstates LSU’s Will Wade

A most interesting development

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NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State Press Conference
Mar 22, 2017; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers athletic director Joe Alleva introduces new basketball head coach Will Wade during a press conference at the LSU Student Union. 
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

When he was at Duke, many people were dissatisfied with Joe Alleva’s role as Duke’s athletic director and not least of all his handling of the lacrosse hoax where he appeared to bend whatever way the winds blew.

Doesn’t seem like much has changed at LSU.

If you’ll recall, now-LSU Athletic Director Alleva suspended his basketball coach Will Wade after Wade was reportedly wiretapped by the FBI making some very specific and damning comments about recruiting Javonte Smart and making him a “strong-ass offer” to attend LSU.

After that came to light, Wade refused to meet with Alleva and LSU officials and was suspended for his insubordination.

Wade apparently refused on the advice of his attorney which could reasonably lead one to think that he had something to conceal.

Well it’s all fine now.

Wade met with Alleva and NCAA representatives Friday and now he’s back in LSU’s good graces.

Alleva said this: “The University regrets that Coach Wade did not choose to fulfill his obligations to LSU when he was first asked to do so. However, the seriousness of the allegations and Coach Wade’s prior refusal to refute them could not be ignored without exposing the University and the basketball program to great risk. Protecting LSU and preserving our integrity must always be our first priority.”

Here’s Alleva’s complete statement.

And Will said this: “I completely understand that without my denying or explaining the media reports accusing me of wrongdoing LSU was left with no choice but to suspend me until I was willing and able to meet with them. Any other course of action would have put the program and the University at risk.”

Here’s Wade’s complete statement.

Perhaps the key passage in both statements comes from Alleva’s:

“Coach Wade’s explanations and clarifications offered during the meeting, absent actual evidence of misconduct, satisfy his contractual obligation to LSU.”

So that leaves us with at least three possibilities or a possible combination of two:

First, that Wade is completely innocent.

Second, that like Sean Miller at Arizona, there were significant errors in the reporting of this story and that there are things here that we don't know. Perhaps there is some context of which we are not aware that explains the affirmation of Wade’s offer.

And third? It’s just that, like he did at Duke during the lacrosse hoax, Alleva buckled under pressure. LSU fans were nearly apoplectic over his handling over the Wade situation.

While saying “absent actual evidence of misconduct” is true for the original situation, insubordination, for most bosses, is cause for dismissal.

At this point, it’s fair to ask not just what happens next time, but also who actually is in charge of LSU athletics.

Maybe it’s Wade. It doesn’t appear to be Alleva.

None of this comes as a surprise to people who watched Alleva’s performance at Duke.

We may not have heard the last of this. The defense in the latest Adidas trial would like to call Wade, along with Arizona’s Miller, to testify. If that happens, there is no good alternative for Wade. If the wiretapping story is accurate and he confirms it, he’s done. If he pleads the fifth, he’s probably done. If he is dishonest, he faces perjury charges.

It’ll be interesting to see how Alleva navigates that.

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