I distinctly remember thinking that the federal trial involving corruption in college basketball was pretty good news for the country as a whole.
Really, if the FBI was ready to spend millions to venture out into the playground, it must mean that all the real crime in America had already been solved.
Well, the trial is over now.
It got a couple of bribery convictions against some low-level minions of the game, aspiring agent/ runner Christian Dawkins and a former adidas consultant/youth coach named Merl Code Jr. They were acquitted on several other charges and neither is expected see more than a few months in prison.
Mainly, though, the prosecutors seemed to be crowing over their startling revelation — film at 11 — that the underbelly of college basketball recruiting might be a tad shady.
Next up? The feds can devote more millions to proving that pro wrestling is fake and possibly rigged.
Meanwhile, LSU and new Athletic Director Scott Woodward have to figure out what to do with their own basketball coach, Will Wade.
It’s kind of up to the NCAA and what it finds in whatever investigation it launches (or, more likely, has already launched).
Wade came out of the trial about as well as he could have imagined. The defense subpoenaed Wade but the judge ruled Wade shouldn’t testify, though his name did come up in testimony.
But LSU is in a bit of a jam here, waiting to see what the NCAA does — and it never seems to expedite things — before deciding whether Wade can stay.
Wade was mentioned early in the trial when an FBI surveillance video recording was introduced. Former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel Richardson claimed in a conversation with undercover agents that Wade had mentioned a $300,000 offer for center Naz Reid, who ended up being a key cog in the Tigers’ run to through the NCAA Tournament to the Sweet 16.
Otherwise, he seemed to be the forgotten big name in the trial. Reid’s name never came up again either.
However, it goes along with an FBI wiretap, not played at the trial but previously revealed by Yahoo! Sports, in which Wade is reportedly heard talking to Dawkins about strong “offer,” presumably to Javonte Smart, another mainstay of this year’s Tigers.
It was a lot easier for the FBI to get this stuff with its wiretaps and subpoena power than it will be for NCAA, which has none of the above.
But the feds are apparently done with the case. They evidently aren’t interested in doing the NCAA’s job for it.
Sure, they set off some alarms in regard to suspicious actions by a number of schools.
But, according to legal experts, that’s about as much help as NCAA investigators are going to get. The feds pointed the NCAA in the right direction, perhaps, but now it’s up to the NCAA.
The NCAA will no doubt request all the information the FBI has that hasn’t been made public.
Again, legal experts say there are roughly two chances of that ever happening — slim and none.
“I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that the NCAA will be able to get anything,” Paul Rothstein, a professor at Georgetown Law, told the Washington Post.
So presumably the NCAA is on its own to build a case against any of the many schools mentioned in the case.
Maybe that’s what Wade was counting on when, as part of the stipulations to get reinstated after a monthlong suspension, he agreed to new amendments in his contract that allowed LSU to fire him for cause for mere charges of Level 1 or Level 2 NCAA violations.
Yes, the wiretaps and video recordings aren’t a good look for anybody. But they’re basically hearsay and innuendo, hardly proof that anything unseemly happened.
“Even though it seems in the public that there’s fairly clear-cut violations here, I think it’s going to be challenging for the enforcement staff to establish that … payments were in fact made to the players or their parents,” Tim Nevius, a former NCAA investigator and lawyer who represents college athletes, told the Washington Post.
It would do LSU well right now to go ahead and meet with the NCAA to see what the organization is thinking. Maybe speed things up.
At best, Wade still comes out of this thing tainted.
But, even if it’s in his wildest dreams, he can at least imagine a scenario in which maybe, just maybe, he coaches again at LSU.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at