The NCAA recently delivered its Notice of Allegations to LSU, and on Saturday the school took major action in response to the alleged violations with the dismissal of men’s basketball coach Will Wade.
But the case was wide-ranging for the school, extending beyond men’s basketball and into football. Alleged violations included a booster’s impermissible payments to the family of a player and Odell Beckham’s cash handouts to players on the field after LSU won the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship in New Orleans.
According to the NOA, obtained and shared by Sports Illustrated and others, Beckham is alleged to have handed out “approximately $2,000 in impermissible benefits to four student-athletes.” The much-publicized hundred-dollar handshakes were immediately of concern to LSU, and the school took efforts to self-report the violation and self-impose sanctions to mitigate the punishments. The NCAA has indicated this to be a Level II violation — less serious in nature but a part of the larger “lack of institutional control” allegations in the case.
LSU took a similar approach in regards to the allegations regarding the more serious Level I violation in which approximately $180,000 in payments from a booster were made to the family of a player for “underperformed work.” This story came to light three years ago when John Paul Funes, the former president and CEO of Our Lady of the Lake Foundation in Baton Rouge, pleaded guilty to felony wire fraud and money laundering charges. Federal prosecutors alleged that Funes embezzled more than $500,000 from the foundation, and the investigation found that the father of former offensive lineman Vadal Alexander was the recipient of some of those funds.
Finally, LSU football caught a Level III violation for impermissible contact on the recruiting trail between Ed Orgeron and a recruit in the office of a high school coach. The NCAA found this violation to be less serious as it was “isolated and limited” and “provided no more than a minimal recruiting advantage.”
Compared to the handful of Level I violations for Will Wade and the men’s basketball program, the football impact is going to have far less fallout. However these issues did contribute to the wide-ranging allegation that LSU failed to exercise institutional control from February 2012 to June 2020.