LSU has suspended coach Will Wade indefinitely amid reports about his conversations with a person convicted last year of funneling money to the families of basketball recruits.
LSU Chancellor F. King Alexander and athletic director Joe Alleva said in a joint statement Friday that assistant Tony Benford will be the interim head coach until LSU can ensure that Wade’s recruiting tactics have been in full compliance with NCAA and university policies.
No. 10 LSU is in the midst of one of the more successful seasons in program history and can guarantee itself at least a share of the SEC regular-season title with a victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.
A Yahoo report Thursday included excerpts of a wire-tapped phone conversation with Christian Dawkins, who is one of several people convicted in October of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for funneling illegal payments to families of recruits to Louisville, Kansas and North Carolina State. Dawkins also is a defendant in a federal bribery case scheduled for trial in April.
In the report, Wade is described expressing his frustration with an unidentified third party handling the recruitment of player referred to only as “Smart.” LSU has a freshman guard named Javonte Smart who is a former Louisiana high school player of the year.
Wade is quoted on a transcript of the call saying that he made a strong offer that was “tilted toward taking care of” the player and his mother, but that the third party who received the offer was unsatisfied with his “piece of the pie.”
• Creighton’s Preston Murphy and TCU’s Corey Barker, both assistant men’s basketball coaches, have been placed on administrative leave by their schools after each was accused of taking a $6,000 bribe from an aspiring sports agent to send prospective clients his way.
Browns to acquire pass rusher Vernon
The Cleveland Browns reportedly have agreed to acquire defensive end Olivier Vernon from the New York Giants in exchange for guard Kevin Zeitler, a person familiar with the deal said.
The teams are also swapping draft picks, with the Browns getting No. 132 for pick No. 155. The trade won’t become official until the start of free agency Wednesday.
Vernon, 28, started 39 games over three seasons with the Giants and has 51 sacks in seven seasons, including seven last year when he was named a Pro Bowler.
Vernon is set to make $15.5 million in each of the two remaining years on his contract.
Zeitler just completed his second season with the Browns, who signed him to a five-year, $60 million deal as a free agent in 2017.
• Receiver Danny Amendola was released by the Miami Dolphins, creating $6 million salary cap space for the team. Amendola, 33, had 59 receptions for 575 yards last year, both team highs, while making 15 starts in his first season with Miami.
• The Jacksonville Jaguars cleared $30 million in salary cap space by cutting five veterans, including former Pro Bowl defenders Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson. The team also released offensive lineman Jermey Parnell, former 49ers running back Carlos Hyde and long-snapper Carson Tinker.
• The Green Bay Packers released linebacker Antonio Morrison after one season, freeing $2 million in salary cap space, and the Detroit Lions cut guard T.J. Lang.
Baseball: Aaron Judge got a $62,000 raise from the New York Yankees up to $684,300 in the right fielder’s last season before becoming eligible for salary arbitration.
Other Yankees agreeing to deal were catcher Gary Sanchez (up $49,400 to $669,800), second baseman Gleyber Torres ($605,200, up from the $545,000 minimum) and third baseman Miguel Andujar ($617,600, an increase from $545,800).
• Former A’s pitcher Esteban Loaiza, 46, was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to federal drug charges involving 44 pounds of cocaine that he admitted he planned to distribute.
The former All-Star, who played for nine major-league teams between 1995-2008, was sentenced more than a year after he was arrested near a house in Imperial Beach, a town south of San Diego that borders Mexico.
Motor sports: Ryan Blaney turned the fastest lap in practice and never slowed down in qualifying, putting his No. 12 Ford on the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at ISM Raceway near Phoenix.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/LSU-suspends-men-s-basketball-head-coach-Will-13675254.php.