DESTIN, Fla. — It’s rare that any coach attracts more media buzz than Nick Saban at any SEC assembly but Will Wade succeeded in stealing the spotlight.
The LSU basketball coach, the subject of much media scrutiny over allegations of NCAA recruiting violations and a five-week institutional suspension, met with the media for the first time in nearly three months on Tuesday at the SEC spring meetings to mixed reviews. He did answer tough questions, but many of those answers showed nifty crossover verbal dribbling but little in the way of substance.
“I’ve had time to reflect since I was out for 40 days or so, there were some mistakes that I made. But ever since that, when I was able to sit down and talk with LSU and meet with LSU and meet with the NCAA, I was fully cooperative. I disclosed everything and answered any and all questions completely and fully with LSU and with the NCAA.”
“That ultimately led to my reinstatement as the head coach at LSU and what was said in those meetings is private and confidential.”
The reinstatement sounds rosy but is an institutional decision, not an NCAA exoneration. Wade’s future remains unclear. He did not answer specific questions about details of wiretaps that show him discussing recruits with convicted felon Christian Dawkins, or other pointed queries, citing “confidentiality.”
Wade did say that he might tone down his “brash” recruiting personality, one that has called added attention to him during his tenure.
“I have a sign on our practice facility wall that says ‘Chance favors the aggressor,’” he said. “We’ve obviously played very aggressively on the court. We’ve been very aggressive in recruiting. I think I’ve come off as a little bit brash, to be honest. I think that’s rubbed some folks the wrong way and that’s my fault. So, will it change the way we recruit? We’re still going to recruit the best players we can to LSU … but there’s a line that you can’t get up to and I think maybe sometimes I’ve gotten to that point where it’s a little bit too brash.”
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey on Tuesday tackled the single topic that unites the league’s 14 fan bases: bad officiating.
Actually, Sankey didn’t call the football officiating “bad.” In fact, he said that the league’s officiating was good, but an independent analysis was nonetheless approved by the league and conducted by the international accounting firm DeLoitte. However, the league, according to Sankey, feels “better communication” about its officiating was important at this time.
“The sport officiating environment is evolving,” he said at the league’s spring meeting. “We verified our view that we have honorable people.
“I did it (initiating a review) not because something was broken but because we want to keep improving.”
One change that is under consideration is a sideline review center, although Sankey said that would complement, not replace, the central review process at the league office in Birmingham.