While most of the college basketball world focuses its attention on the 2023 NCAA Tournament, which begins in earnest on Thursday, some teams are looking ahead after their seasons ended in disappointment.
One of those teams is the McNeese State Cowboys.
The Cowboys went just 11-23 in the 2022-23 season. It was their 11th consecutive losing season and their second under coach John Aiken, who was fired following the season.
It’s clear, then, that the Cowboys needed to make a significant change.
In steps Will Wade.
If that name sounds familiar, it’s because you probably heard it before. Wade coached the LSU Tigers from 2017-22, winning the SEC and reaching the Sweet 16 in the 2018-19 season.
But Wade was fired following the 2021-22 season. Not for his poor results, but rather due to a string of NCAA recruiting violations committed during his five-year run.
“We can no longer subject our University, Department of Athletics, and—most importantly—our student-athletes, to this taxing and already-lengthy process without taking action,” LSU AD Scott Woodward said at the time.
As it turns out, however, if you can win on the court, it doesn’t much matter to schools what goes on off it (looking at you, Ole Miss and Chris Beard.)
And so Wade sets off onto a new foray with a new team. But it’s not quite that simple.
Wade still faces a potential show-cause penalty from the IARP, which is still investigating his violations with LSU. So in hopes of avoiding further penalty, Wade and McNeese self-imposed a five-game suspension as part of his new contract.
Who knows whether that saves his bacon. If history is any indication, it likely won’t. But hiring a coaching know you’re going to have to suspend them immediately is as bold as bold comes when it comes to new hires.
When you haven’t had a winning season in over a decade, sometimes that’s what it takes.