It’s Friday, rejoice.
I’m up in New York City today for Fox News hits so I’m cranking out the mailbag early this week and I’m headed straight to their studios up here as soon as I click publish.
Yep, your boy is always working.
So let’s go ahead and dive in here with the question that’s getting asked the most, what’s up with LSU and Will Wade?
First, I would love to see a list of what every NCAA tourney team is spending on players in college basketball. If only to see how many college basketball teams which will be high seeds aren’t paying any players at all. Because the teams that aren’t paying deserve some sort of honesty bonus, don’t they?
Also, how much better are the coaches who are winning despite not paying players?
Second, as I’ve been saying since this story first broke, I don’t believe the FBI should have ever gotten involved investigating college athletes being paid and I don’t have a problem with players being compensated.
Third, I don’t think LSU is unique here.
But, and this is key, Will Wade is caught on tape discussing making offers to a basketball recruit, which is a clear NCAA violation.
Just because everyone else is speeding on the Interstate doesn’t mean you get to cite that as exculpatory evidence when you get pulled over for speeding. You still have to pay the ticket and LSU will have to pay for its violations here as well.
Here’s the transcript of that audio according to ESPN and Yahoo, who both have the same quotes:
“I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade told Dawkins during one of the calls. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m [expletive] tired of dealing with the thing. Like I’m just [expletive] sick of dealing with the s—. Like, this should not be that [expletive] complicated.
“Dude,” Wade continued during the call, “I went to [the handler] with a [expletive] strong-ass offer about a month ago. [Expletive] strong.
“The problem was, I know why he didn’t take it now. It was [expletive] tilted toward the family a little bit. It was tilted toward taking care of the mom, taking care of the kid. Like it was tilted towards that. Now I know for a fact he didn’t explain everything to the mom. I know now, he didn’t get enough of the piece of the pie in the deal.”
“It was a [expletive] hell of a [expletive] offer,” Wade continued. “Hell of an offer. … Especially for a kid who is going to be a two- or three-year kid.”
You can read the Yahoo article here and also read the ESPN article here. The ESPN article is interesting because Wade is also said to be recorded on the wiretap saying a player would be compensated more than the “rookie minimum.” Now the rookie minimum in the NBA is over $800k so I’d imagine this is a joke, but it goes to establishing that the offer in question here was money.
This Yahoo article — Yahoo broke the story first — is extraordinary because I can’t ever remember a sitting head coach of a major basketball program being caught on an FBI wiretap making comments like these. That is, evidence of this nature has never existed before.
Generally speaking head coaches insulate themselves from issues like these — it’s why the NCAA expanded its punishments to avoid coaches being able to bury their heads in the sand and claim they never had any knowledge of alleged wrongdoing. Most head coaches aren’t as brazen — or at least haven’t been caught — as Wade was in this conversation.
So does Wade have any defenses here?
Sure, but most of them aren’t good. He can claim he wasn’t making a monetary offer to a recruit since there’s no specific mention of an exact sum of money. But the problem is offering anything more than a scholarship is a NCAA violation and I think it would be hard for Wade to argue this was a normal scholarship offer.
Wade could also argue it isn’t him on the tape, but that’s also a tough case to make because the phone records for this phone could be traced back to him.
Wade could also argue he was lying to the person on the other end of the call about making an offer to a player, but why would he lie?
Especially because, and this is key, Wade has been notified he will be subpoena’d for a criminal trial in April where he’d be questioned under oath about these comments.
Remember, once you start testifying under oath you aren’t just risking your job, you’re risking going to prison if you perjure yourself.
That’s why I think Wade (and Sean Miller who will also be reportedly subpoena’d) might well need to take the fifth amendment on the witness stand rather than answer questions.
Wade could also hope the NCAA doesn’t obtain these FBI transcripts, but if Yahoo and ESPN have them, how could the NCAA not get them as well?
So what does LSU do?
The school doesn’t have great options here.
LSU could refuse to take any action and let Wade coach and Smart play, but this seems very risky given the evidence against him.
Remember, Louisville fired Rick Pitino for evidence that was less significant than this.
I think the most likely outcome is LSU’s suspends Wade while they announce they are conducting their own investigation into these issues and also sits Smart for the remainder of the season.
Here’s my analysis of this case on yesterday’s Outkick the Show.
LSU’s Will Wade caught on FBI recording making an “offer” for a top recruit. What happens now? https://t.co/D1ZEH1wGzk
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) March 7, 2019
For the LSU fans reading this right now and blowing up my mentions talking about how Wade has done nothing wrong. I’d just ask you this, if Yahoo had published the same exact story and instead of Will Wade being named it was Nick Saban.
Would you be making the same arguments?
A good way to check your own bias is to ask yourself this question, “How would I react if my most hated rival was accused of doing the exact same thing?”
If your reaction isn’t the exact same that’s a clear example of your own bias.
I don’t think there’s a single LSU fan on the planet who would be Tweeting or emailing me saying there’s not enough proof here to prove Nick Saban violated NCAA rules.
“After watching the Michael Jackson documentary, I had two thoughts: Michael Jackson is lucky that he’s dead. If he were still alive, he would end up going to prison. Further, I’m glad he’s dead so he can’t victimize any other young boys.” — @ClayTravis pic.twitter.com/6XRijScibu
— Outkick the Coverage (@Outkick) March 7, 2019