LSU coach Will Wade isn’t happy with Dick Vitale.
Wade, speaking on the Jordy Culotta Show, said the longtime ESPN college basketball announcer “flat out lied” to him before the game and promised that he wouldn’t discuss the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into Wade and the Tigers’ program during their SEC tournament title game on Sunday.
"How about that guy?” Wade said Wednesday. “How about this? He flat out lied to me.”
Vitale addresses NCAA investigation during game
Vitale called Wade on Saturday ahead of the SEC tournament championship game on Sunday — where the Tigers fell to top-seeded Alabama by a single point.
Wade insists that Vitale said he wasn’t going to address the years-long investigation into the LSU program.
"He said he was going to talk about our team and stuff," Wade said. "He said, 'I'm not going to bring anything up.' I said, 'OK, I appreciate that. That's nice.' And I get like 100 texts after the game. Unbelievable.”
During the game, though Vitale did address the investigation — something he said Thursday was largely due to the production staff working the game. Considering the investigation, and it being LSU’s biggest game of the year, it makes sense why ESPN would address it.
Though Vitale said he told Wade that he wouldn’t go into details, he doesn’t feel that he did anything wrong or violate his word.
"I did call Will, and I told him I wasn't going to get into specifics of all that," Vitale told USA Today on Thursday. "I promised I wasn't going to get into all of that as far as what was said by Will. But the production people put up a graphic and told me to talk about it.
“I didn't lie to Will Wade. I didn't get specific. I am really upset about what he said. My word is my bond."
Wade has been under investigation since 2019, when Yahoo Sports first reported comments Wade made to Christian Dawkins — a middleman for an NBA agent who was at the center of a massive federal investigation of the sport — regarding a “strong ass offer.” The NCAA later accused Wade of making or arranging “at least 11” cash payments and impermissible benefits to potential recruits.
Wade was briefly suspended, but was reinstated and has been at his post ever since.
The investigation has since been moved to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process, an NCAA arm used to investigate and review “select complex infractions cases.”
What did Vitale say on the broadcast?
Listening back to the game, Vitale didn’t get into specifics of the investigation — and actually praised Wade’s coaching ability.
Karl Ravech, who was Vitale’s broadcast partner, got far more specific.
"There's no doubt about it Karl," Vitale said during a break near the end of the first half, via USA Today. "The biggest problem they're going to face is with the NCAA. I mean, let's face reality. You've heard all the documented situations that have been out there concerning Will Wade's comments and the investigation by the FBI. That is really lingering over them. And that is going to be the biggest concern — dealing with the NCAA.
"The guy can coach. There is no doubt about it. He can flat out coach. He won with VCU, and he's won here. They just have to sit back now and wait on what happens with that committee — the Independent Accountability Resolution Process."
Vitale, 81, even criticized the NCAA for taking so long on the investigation into Wade.
"I mean, by the time they decide, he may be 70 years old," Vitale said, via USA Today. "I'll be long gone."
Why Wade is so upset with Vitale’s comments isn’t exactly clear, considering what Vitale specifically said on the broadcast. The investigation is likely to come up during the NCAA tournament — LSU will first take on St. Bonaventure on Saturday — too, especially if the Tigers can mount a substantial run in Indiana.
Vitale said he called and left a message for Wade after hearing his comments on Wednesday.
"I have always been good to LSU," Vitale said, via USA Today. "That's why this really bothers me."
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