BREAKING: Will Wade signs five-year deal to coach at McNeese

Published 11:13 am Sunday, March 12, 2023

Will Wade has been hired as the new basketball coach at McNeese State.

The former LSU coach has signed a five-year deal with the Cowboys a year to the day after he was fired in Baton Rouge. 

Wade and McNeese Athletic Director Heath Schroyer finished the contract at the airport in Chattanooga, Tenn., Sunday morning before boarding a private plane to Lake Charles.

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The school will introduce Wade officially Monday at a pep rally/press conference inside the Legacy Center at noon. The public is invited.

The move comes five days after McNeese fired John Aiken following two years at the helm of the Cowboys. McNeese was a disappointing 22-45 under Aiken, the most losses in any two-year period in program history. 

Aiken had one year remaining on his contract which McNeese bought out at close to $170,000 according to sources. That is the most in school history given to a fired coach.

Wade, who was at LSU from 2017-2022, comes to McNeese with plenty of success and baggage. His time with the Tigers was mired in controversy that included a long NCAA investigation. 

LSU fired Wade before the 2022 tournament after the NCAA formally served the university with a Notice of Allegations. That came after an investigation into potential violations committed by Wade and the program.

The notice charged Wade with five Level 1 and two Level 2 violations. The NCAA heard Wade’s case in early February and is expected to rule on it and hand out any punishments if they are to come, sometime in the summer.

On the court Wade posted a 55-33 record over most of five seasons while in Baton Rouge, his third head coaching job. His Tigers won the SEC regular season title in 2019 in just his second season on campus.

LSU finished 25-5 that year and advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament by winning its first two postseason games.

Before LSU Wade coached at Virginia Commonwealth and Tennessee-Chattanooga.  

The signing of Wade is a huge victory for Schroyer, who himself coached the Cowboys for three seasons before moving over to the A.D. position full time. However it also has risks. 

Wade could be suspended by the NCAA or be given a show cause with some recruiting limitations. 

Either way Schroyer is ready to accept the chances for his guy.

Schroyer has vowed to make McNeese “relevant” nationally in college basketball.

“Our window is now,” Schroyer has previously said. “This is not the same job it was five years ago even when I got here. We can’t settle for being happy just make the conference tournament.

“We can’t settle for mediocrity.”

McNeese hasn’t been in the NCAA Tournament since 2002 when the Cowboys lost as a 14th seed to Mississippi State in the first round, 70-58 that year and is 0-2 all-time in the tourney.