There’s no other word for the decision made by LSU athletic director Joe Alleva and the rest of the administration to indefinitely suspend men’s basketball coach Will Wade for the remainder of the season.
It’s a gutless, cowardly decision that stands completely juxtaposed from one of the central pillars of the American justice system — innocent until proven guilty.
For those who live under a rock, Yahoo! Sports released another scathing report about Wade and his recruiting tactics that included the transcript from another wiretapped conversation between the embattled LSU coach and low-level agent runner and convicted felon Christian Dawkins.
The conversation included Wade bragging about a “strong deal” he made, presumably, to freshman guard Javonte Smart and Smart’s family, and was certainly not a good look for a coach that many believe is soon to be subpoenaed.
I think it’s important to point out here that any offer to a recruit in excess of a scholarship is against NCAA rules. That’s what makes Wade’s comments about the offer he made to Smart especially troubling.
Heck, Wade hasn’t even been officially subpoenaed, yet let alone charged or indicted of anything.
After the LSU administration announced its decision to suspend Wade, news broke that Wade declined to meet with University officials to discuss his side of the story due to advice from his legal counsel.
Some believe this represents insubordination on Wade’s part, justifying his suspension. While it certainly isn’t a great look, I would have to believe that Wade following the advice of his counsel is the best move for his and his employer’s sake.
The initial Yahoo! Sports report that began this media whirlwind suggested that Wade would be subpoenaed by the defense in the coming weeks with regard to the federal investigation of collegiate basketball recruiting.
The choice to suspend Wade is, plainly and simply, an act of cowardice made by the LSU administration to appease the media mob hungry for clicks and attention.
When Yahoo! Sports broke the second transcript of Wade and Dawkins’ conversation yesterday, the internet was flooded with pundits and columnists from around the country climbing upon high horses to chastise Wade and the University.
LSU’s own mass communication professor Robert Mann took to Twitter to clutch his pearls, saying the University should hold Wade to an “ethical standard.”
And, what standard is that? Let’s say Wade did pay his players to become Tigers. Are we really arguing that it’s unethical to compensate student athletes for making the University truck loads of money because it’s against the NCAA rulebook to do so?
Are national pundits really making the case that basketball programs like Duke and Kentucky are clean? Do we really believe LSU’s basketball program is the only violator?
This is all a ridiculous jump to conclusions without hearing Wade’s side of the story. Even if it’s all true and Wade is found guilty of paying his athletes, what does the administration believe it’s avoiding?
LSU will still be sanctioned and wins will still be vacated with or without Wade at the helm for the last stretch of the season. Alas, Alleva and the administration decided to take the click-bait. They decided to back away from their coach because the media pressure was too hot.
In the process, the University has shown its students and supporters the threshold for loyalty. Innocent until proven guilty is a fairy tale we’re told as kids, and the adult world plays by different rules.
I’ll be sure to put that bedtime story on the shelf next to the fantasy titled “Forever LSU.”