BREAKING: Wade, McNeese sign record deal

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Who is up for an encore?

The American Press has confirmed that Will Wade and McNeese State have agreed to a new five-year contract that will go a long way in keeping him on the Cowboy bench next season.

The two sides signed the deal late last week and will make the official announcement at a press conference at noon today inside the Legacy Center.

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Wade will be paid a record $700,000 plus incentives to stay at McNeese, by far the largest coaching contract in Cowboy athletic history. The buyouts will also increase with the number starting at $1.25 million if he were to leave before Aug. 31 of this year. That is a quarter of a million-dollar increase.

The buyout will be for $1 million if he leaves before Aug. 31, 2025, double what it was in the original deal. From there the buyout drops to $500,000 after that.

There is a caveat to the deal. Wade insisted on the buyout being dropped to $500,000 if either Athletic Director Heath Schroyer or Wade Rousse, the head of the McNeese Athletic Foundation, were to leave the school. If both are gone the buyout is just $200,000.

Rousse is considered one of the front runners to replace Daryl Burckel as McNeese president this summer.

Wade’s new payments go into effect pending board approval.

The deal replaces the original five-year contract the sides signed last March when Wade was hired to turn around a dead program. Wade was paid a base of $200,000 for this season and was to make $250,000 next year.

Schroyer had promised to rip up the original deal if Wade could flip the program and it economically was possible. This fulfills that promise.

“I want to make it as tough on him as possible to leave,” Schroyer said in the fall. “He has been great for our program, our university, and our community. We want to have him for as long as he wants to be here.”

Wade’s new deal would be worth $3.5 million plus incentives if he were to stay all five seasons, which is unlikely.

Wade has, from the start, stated he wasn’t planning on any drastic move.

“I’m not going to jump at the first job,” Wade told the American Press in December. “I am having the most fun of my career. I really enjoy being here.

“It is exciting helping to build a program. I want to leave a legacy here. When I leave I want to make sure the pieces are in place for it to keep right on going.”

Sunday Wade was asked about his future after McNeese’s practice. He made his intentions clear.

“I plan to be here next season,” Wade said. “It’s a matter of principals.”

Wade has said in the past he is grateful for the opportunity McNeese has given him and how much the fans and community have welcomed him.

Internet chatter and gossip had several programs as a possible landing spot for Wade next season. Schroyer wanted to send a preemptive strike to limit the number of schools that might be interested in the former LSU coach.

Wade still has one year remaining on his NCAA show cause probation stemming from a recruiting scandal while he was at LSU that led to his firing in 2022. His 10-game suspension at the start of this season was part of that punishment

Wade has brought life to a dead program in his first season with the Cowboys. 

McNeese is on a record pace with a 20-3 start, 10-1 in the Southland Conference, after Monday night’s win over Texas A&M-Commerce. 

This is just the ninth 20-win season for McNeese as a Division I program and the first since 2011-12. They are also just two victories shy of equaling the school record of 22 wins set in 2000-01. They can match and top that mark this week.

This is just the Cowboys’ ninth 20-win season as a Division I program.

McNeese lost 45 games the two previous seasons before Wade’s arrival, including a record 23 last year. The Cowboys have not had a winning season since 2012 and haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2002. 

As for interest, the Cowboys have already played in front of three sellout crowds and have drawn over 4,000 fans in four of their last five home games. Merchandise sales on a record pace the program is receiving votes in both of the major national polls for the first time ever.