Will Wade’s entanglement with college basketball’s legal drama took another turn on Friday.
Wade has been subpoenaed by Christian Dawkins’ attorneys as a witness in the case. Dawkins was convicted of conspiracy and wire fraud charges for helping funnel money to high-profile college basketball recruits in October, and he is the man who Wade allegedly discussed with about a “strong-ass offer” made to Javonte Smart. When approached by LSU’s administration for a meeting, Wade declined and was placed on suspension March 8.
He has since hired a new legal attorney, Steven Thompson, who has represented both Arizona’s Sean Miller, who has also been subpoenaed by the defense, and Auburn’s Bruce Pearl throughout the college basketball scandal.
Now prosecutors are trying to prevent Wade from taking the stand at all during the trial which starts April 22 in New York.
Prosecutors filed a motion dissuading the judge from allowing the defense to offer evidence showing Dawkins had other relationships with coaches he did not bribe and making the case about NCAA rules, according to a report by ESPN.
"The defendants are on trial for serious federal crimes, and the defendants should not be able to use this trial as a referendum on the merits of the NCAA's rules or the state of college basketball, in an impermissible effort to garner sympathy with the jury,” the motion said.
This motion by the prosecution seems to back Wade’s claim in the fall that he had never done business with Dawkins. Dawkins is currently going to trial for bribing multiple coaches, but the motion by the prosecution specifically references the defense’s goal for bringing Wade to the stand and an attempt “to pull back the curtain on college basketball.”
“Defendant Dawkins has proffered that he intends to call both coaches to testify about how much influence, as a head coach, they have over their student-athletes and how Dawkins did not bribe them," the motion stated. "To the extent that the defendants, as Dawkins's counsel suggested, seeks to introduce evidence that they dealt with men's basketball coaches who they did not bribe, such evidence would constitute impermissible 'good acts' evidence and should be precluded."
The motion by the defense is also in line with what the judge ruled in the original October case against Dawkins. The judge declined the defense attorneys’ attempts to enter into evidence a wiretap transcript of Wade talking to Dawkins about 2019 recruit Balsa Koprivica, claiming Wade and Koprivica weren’t on trial and thus the transcript had no relevance.
In the meantime, Sports Illustrated reported Thompson helped facilitate new talks between Wade and LSU and that a meeting between the two is close on Thursday.
"This is something we have been working on for weeks, and I can confirm the most recent talks with Will’s legal counsel have been productive," LSU senior associate athletic director Robert Munson said in a statement. "As we have said since day one, we would welcome Will and his legal counsel’s cooperation in this process.
With an NCAA inquiry, where it leads will depend on the level of cooperation with LSU and the NCAA. But, we have certainly made clear our desire to take this first step."