LSU head coach Will Wade took his time at SEC media day on Wednesday to declare his innocence after being linked to Christian Dawkins during the ongoing federal trial on corruption in college basketball in New York.
Wade’s name was brought up in court on Tuesday as lawyers for Adidas executive Jim Gatto tried to admit evidence that showed the LSU coach was prepared to offer benefits to land top-50 2019 big man Balsa Koprivica. The catch was that Dawkins had to get him to sign with the Tigers.
Attorney Casey Donnelly, representing Gatto, tried to introduce a wiretapped phone call between Wade and Dawkins. No date was provided from Donnelly, but court records show the FBI monitored one of Dawkins’ cellphones from June 19, 2007 through Sept. 15, 2017.
Donnelly read from a transcript that showed that Wade and Dawkins spoke about Koprivica. The context of the conversation is limited, however, and it has some gray area.
“So you said to me in Atlanta there was a 2019 kid I wanted to recruit, they can get him to LSU, you would have funded,” Dawkins told Wade on the call — according to Donnelly’s transcript. “Would you want Balsa?”
“Oh, the big kid?” Wade asked.
“Yeah,” Dawkins said.
“OK. But there’s other [expletive] involved in it,” Wade replied. “I have got to shut my door. … Here’s my thing: I can get you what you need, but it’s got to work.”
At SEC media day on Wednesday, Wade downplayed the comments, while only sticking to a prepared statement. After reading the statement, Wade refused to answer additional questions, while referring to the statement, when reporters tried to ask follow-up questions.
“It was a little bit surprising,” Wade said about the testimony at SEC media day. “I’m not really gonna react to what the defense attorney said. I will say I’m very proud of everything I’ve done as LSU’s head coach. … I or we have never, ever done business of any kind with Christian Dawkins. That’s what I’ll say about that.”
Wade and LSU are expected to have a promising 2018-19 season as sophomore point guard Tremont Waters is considered an All-American candidate. The team is also trying to overcome the loss of Wayde Sims, who was tragically killed when he was shot and killed in late September.
So to have Wade’s name mentioned in this trial is another subplot that the Tigers have to go through as the season approaches.
(h/t: Myron Medcalf, ESPN)