In the wake of LSU Tigers head basketball coach Will Wade being suspended indefinitely from the program, fans in Baton Rouge made sure their voices — and more importantly their displeasure — were heard loud and clear. With the program’s first regular season SEC Championship in a decade on the line and the college basketball world watching, a large contingent of LSU fans embarrassed themselves and their school by proving they have no idea what’s really going on.
LSU beat Vanderbilt by 21 points to clinch the SEC title, and they did it without Wade, whose suspension comes after a wire-tapped phone call unveiled the head coach discussing potential illegal payments to a recruit’s family. Instead of honoring the team’s accomplishments this year, the LSU faithful publicly derided the school’s administration in an ill-timed and naive demonstration over the weekend.
When LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva arrived at Pete Maravich Assembly Center, fans primarily in the student section rained boos and jeers down on the man who has Louisiana State University athletics running on all cylinders. LSU students chanted things like “JOE MUST GO” and “F— ALLEVA” to protest Will Wade’s suspension as the school cooperates with the FBI’s investigation, which is exactly what Alleva should have done.
This championship was supposed to be about Wayde Sims, the LSU basketball player who was killed prior to the start of the season. This season was supposed to signal LSU’s rise to national prominence and their highest ranking since 2006.
Instead, the celebration was tainted because some ignorant undergraduate students realized that chanting “FREE WILL WADE” has a nice ring to it.
“It’s an embarrassment to LSU how the fans have reacted. It’s embarrassing to the fans that are not understanding there’s cause and effect. It’s an embarrassment to the people understanding there’s a right and wrong way to do things. It’s an embarrassment that, if you listen to the tapes, you’re basically condoning [paying recruits]. Your excuse is, “well, everyone’s doing it.” Well, everyone isn’t doing it. To me, it’s an absolute joke.”
— CBB analyst Seth Greenberg, via ESPN Radio
Alleva took the appropriate actions to suspend Wade in the midst of this investigation, and it’s not the only time he’s been involved in controversy. In 2006, Alleva was the athletic director at Duke University during the Duke lacrosse scandal that rocked the college athletics community. Alleva was highly criticized for pressuring lacrosse coach Mike Pressler to resign despite all members of the team eventually being acquitted on rape charges.
Alleva knows first-hand how a serious NCAA investigation can devastate a program, and that same fate could be coming to LSU, yet the Tiger faithful at Saturday’s game decided to embarrass Alleva and the school all the same.
Wade refused to meet with Alleva and LSU’s administration to discuss what he said on the FBI’s tapes on the advice of his attorney. If you messed up at your own job, then refused to talk about it with your boss, do you really think you’d keep that job?
Booger McFarland, a 1998 First-Team All-American and first-round draft pick who played football at LSU, posted this criticism of his alma mater’s fans on Twitter:
LSU are the 2019 regular season SEC champions, and that’s great. However, the same title fans applauded could be stripped away before they even have time to hang a banner in Baton Rouge. This is a serious potential violation that, if Will Wade and his staff are found to have broken NCAA rules, could force the team to lose their coach, star freshman Javonte Smart, and all the credibility Joe Alleva has brought back to the basketball team.
But go ahead, LSU fans. Keep acting like you have no idea what’s going on.