Will Wade celebrated the biggest win in a decade for the LSU basketball team by fending off charges of corrupt officiating and then getting subpoenaed by federal authorities.
Long-time friend of the program Pete Thamel broke the news:
Sources: Representatives of Arizona's Sean Miller and LSU's Will Wade have been sent notice that they are going to be subpoenaed in upcoming federal basketball trial. With @DanWetzel and @YahooForde for @YahooSports. https://t.co/hohWftXxCA— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) February 25, 2019
The big question is: what does this mean for LSU? If we’re being honest, the only possible answer is we have no idea. We don’t know the details of the subpoena nor do we know the specific topics of Will Wade’s potential testimony. It’s all speculation at this point.
That said, it’s fairly obvious that NOT getting subpoenaed to testify before a federal court in a basketball corruption trial is better than getting subpoenaed. Will Wade is obviously being tight lipped about the whole affair, and not shedding much light on things.
What we also know is that the FBI has taped conversations of Will Wade and Christian Dawkins, playing some of the tapes at the previous trial last October:
A tape of him discussing the recruitment of top-10 2019 recruit Balsa Koprivica was played at the first trial in October.
When asked by basketball middleman Christian Dawkins if he wanted Balsa, Wade stated, “Wait, I’ve got to shut the door .. I can get you what you need but it’s got to work.”
Wade responded that he’d “never, ever done business of any kind with Christian Dawkins” – a very specific denial. The definition of “business” would likely be explored here.
Let’s make the safe assumption that if there is one tape, there are more. Will Wade would be well-advised to tell the truth on the stand, as the feds will likely know if he is lying, and will be able to prove it.
The NCAA has lost most of its enforcement bite recently. The NCAA let UNC off the hook for potential academic fraud and while there has been an initial investigation of Arizona as a result of this federal corruption case, little has come of it so far. The NCAA has no subpoena power, making it difficult for it to conduct investigations on its own without a cooperating witness. Here, they are hoping the courts will do the work for them, and lay out a case for infractions via the court record.
However, technically Will Wade and LSU are the victims of the fraudulent scheme of which Dawkins is accused. Which means both parties have incentive to tear down Wade as witness. The federal prosecutors know that Wade doesn’t want to willingly turn over dirt which will implicate his program of NCAA wrong-doing, and the defense will likely be playing hardball to avoid serious jail time.
We don’t know if this will lead to an NCAA investigation or sanctions, but it’s obviously not good news.
On a more frivolous note, the SEC did address the officiating controversy of the LSU-Tennessee game. Anthony Jordan, the official in question, posted a picture of an LSU t-shirt for sale in Spain with the comment “Geaux Tigers.”
Herb Vincent stated, “We do not find this social media post to be acceptable with our expectations and will proceed accordingly, while also acknowledging Mr. Jordan has a lengthy track record as a fair and impartial basketball official.”
In a follow-up email, he wrote:
“The SEC has a conflict-of-interest policy,” Vincent wrote, “that prohibits the participation of an individual officiating a game involving a school in the following categories:
• Any school the official attended (either as a student or faculty).
• Any school where immediate family (spouse or children) is currently enrolled.
• Any school where the official played for or with the current head coach.
• Any school where there is a relative on coaching staff.
• Any school where there is a business relationship with the head coach and/or institution.
• Any school where the official or an immediate family member is currently employed by the institution.
This is a rigorously enforced policy, as evidenced by Rob Skelton, the son of former Crimson Tide quarterback Bobby Skelton, working Alabama games. Or Steve Shaw, head of the SEC officials, being an Alabama grad.
If there’s one thing the SEC excels at, it’s even preventing the appearance of impropriety. It has also moved quickly and transparently in dealing with prior officiating controversies. It is really amazing how they have built up so much goodwill on this front.
Or as Billy summed it up:
Man the SEC moves quick when they think there's something that might've benefitted us, huh— Billy Gomila (@ATVS_ChefBilly) February 25, 2019
Nothing will come of the officiating controversy, though if those refs never work another game, it wouldn’t be a tragedy. Not for bias, but for the incompetent manner they managed that game, abusing replay in the final minute of the game to remove all sense of gameflow.
It’s not as sure that nothing will come of Will Wade’s testimony before federal court. However, as of right now, we simply don’t know what’s going to happen. Still, the word “Subpoena” never precedes good news.
The big winner today is the LSU Persecution complex, which is being thoroughly validated. Just because you’re paranoid does not mean they aren’t after you. Enjoy the basketball season before the NCAA computers hit Ctl-Alt-Delete.