BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - LSU students are planning a protest on campus Tuesday, Mar. 12 after Athletic Director Joe Alleva suspended Head Basketball Coach Will Wade Friday, Mar. 8.
Yahoo Sports obtained FBI wire taps of a discussion between Wade and a middle-man, who has been convicted on certain corruption charges. Although not explicit, the report appears to implicate Wade in a pay-for-play scandal involving freshman point guard, Javonte Smart.
In a tweet, the organizer called the athletic administration “incompetent” and criticized Alleva’s decision to suspend Wade.
“To do this in March when you’re 30 games in and on the night before the regular season finale, the timing is the most questionable thing,” Junda said in an interview with WAFB Monday. “It feels like they told on themselves when they didn’t have to and nobody was looking. Now everyone’s looking.”
Fans loudly booed Alleva Saturday and chanted “free Will Wade,” “Joe must go,” and “free Javonte.”
In a statement, Alleva said he suspended Wade while the university investigates whether its coach violated NCAA rules. When asked, Wade did not meet with Alleva to share his side of the story, prompting the suspension.
Interim Coach Tony Benford indicated Monday he’s preparing as if he will coach the Tigers for the remainder of the season.
If the allegations are true and Smart was improperly compensated in his recruitment, the Tigers could have to vacate some or all of its 2018-19 success. LSU fans, along with Junda, wondered why the Tigers did not simply allow Wade to continue and win as many games as possible in the NCAA tournament if the season is tainted anyway.
“You can’t vacate the memories,” Junda said, echoing a common sentiment among Tiger fans. Junda did acknowledge the tapes are “as damning as it gets."
But not all Tiger fans disagree with Alleva’s decision.
“They had to do it, especially because the FBI is involved in what’s going on,” LSU sophomore, Luke Peever, said. “Will Wade is the one who put himself in that situation and it just should never have happened.”
Peever says he thought it was “unfair” LSU will likely be investigated for something he says he thinks happens all across college basketball, especially at powerhouse programs.
“If they investigated Duke, Kentucky, or one of those schools, they’d find the exact same stuff, if not worse,” Peever said. “It’s just kind of unfair that we’re the target right now.”
Other fans wonder why the FBI is investigating corruption in college basketball to begin with. More are angered by national media attention to the story that they say appears out of proportion.
No matter who they’re angry with, Tiger fans are united behind a sense of injustice that will likely be on display again at Tuesday’s protest.