NASHVILLE — LSU will not allow Will Wade to resume his duties as men's basketball coach unless he speaks to university officials about recent media reports that resulted in his suspension.
A statement from the school's legal counsel was released Thursday amid reports Wade had requested to return to the team as the ninth-ranked Tigers prepared for the postseason.
LSU suspended Wade indefinitely last week in the wake of media reports that an FBI wire-tap captured his phone conversations with Christian Dawkins, one of several people convicted in October of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for funneling illegal payments to families of men's basketball recruits to Kansas, Louisville and North Carolina State. Dawkins is also a defendant in a federal bribery case scheduled to begin trial April 22, and Wade is expected to be called as a witness.
Thomas Skinner, an LSU vice president for legal affairs and general counsel, said Wade will remain suspended until he speaks to school officials about the situation.
"Coach Will Wade has yet to deny any wrongdoing to us or publicly," Skinner said in the released statement. "Absent that, the university is in a very difficult position with regard to compliance with NCAA requirements, and until Coach Wade talks to university administration about this, he remains suspended. There is a standing offer for him and his attorneys to meet with LSU officials."
Wade, 36, is in his second season at LSU. The Nashville native started his head coaching career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2013, working there for two seasons before doing the same at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Wade told Sports Illustrated on Thursday that he was put on leave because he didn't submit to an interview with LSU and NCAA officials. The coach said he wasn't speaking with them because the interview would have covered the same subject matter at issue in the pending federal criminal case involving corruption in men's college basketball.
"My legal counsel advised the university that it would be wholly inappropriate for me, or anyone, to submit to an interview under these circumstances," Wade told Sports Illustrated.
Added Wade: "All I've done is follow the prudent advice of counsel to exercise my constitutional rights to due process. Given these facts, I don't believe it is appropriate for me to be relieved of my duties."
Tony Benford, an assistant coach on Wade's staff, is serving as interim head coach for the Tigers. LSU beat Vanderbilt 80-59 on Saturday to clinch the Southeastern Conference regular-season title outright in its first game with Benford as interim coach.
LSU (26-5) is the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament this week at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The Tigers open tournament play Friday with a 1 p.m. EDT quarterfinal against eighth-seeded Florida (18-14), which beat Arkansas 66-50 in a second-round game Thursday.