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Why LSU Wants to Keep Football, Basketball NCAA Investigations Separate

If cases are combined, NCAA can file "lack of institutional control" charge against athletic department.

By now, word has gotten around, whether it's through a report from the Advocate earlier this week, social media or word of mouth, that the NCAA is investigating allegations into both the LSU football and basketball programs. 

The NCAA has reportedly sent the basketball investigation to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) and its committee for review. The IARP was formed to “handle complex NCAA infractions." While no official charges against coach Will Wade or the basketball program have been sent to the LSU athletic department, the NCAA is leaving it up to the panel to decide if Level 1 or Level 2 infractions were committed.

Furthermore, ESPN reported Tuesday morning that Wade “either arranged for or offered” at least 11 potential recruits “impermissible payments.” As part of the Advocate's report, the LSU administration agreed to the IARP making the final decision on Wade and the basketball program, but only if the football investigation was not included.

Here are the three football infractions that the NCAA is investigating at this time and the school has already acknowledged:

  • The father of offensive lineman Vadal Alexander received $180,000 in stolen money from LSU booster John Paul Funes, who admitted in 2019 that he embezzled more than half a million dollars from Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge. The money was payment from 2012–17 for what the NCAA characterized as a “no-show job,” according to The Advocate.
  • Former LSU standout Odell Beckham’s cash payments to players immediately after the Tigers won the College Football Playoff championship game in January. LSU officials initially told reporters that Beckham was handing out fake money, but later retracted that assertion after quarterback Joe Burrow acknowledged in an interview that the cash was real. LSU said the payments totaled $2,000, which Duncan characterized as a Level III violation.
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  • An impermissible recruiting contact in January 2019 by LSU football coach Ed Orgeron. The Advocate said the school self-imposed recruiting restrictions on Orgeron.

So why does the athletic department want to keep the two investigations separate? The short answer is that combining the two cases for the panel to decide, if found guilty, would increase the ability for the NCAA to file "lack of institutional control" charges against the university.

A lack of institutional control is found when the Committee on Infractions determines that major violations occurred and the institution failed to display: 1) Adequate compliance measures, 2) Appropriate education on those compliance measures and 3) Sufficient monitoring to ensure the compliance measures are followed.

If the NCAA hands out a "lack of institutional control" penalty against a university, it usually comes with the harshest penalties. Postseason bans, probation and reduction of scholarships are just a few of the penalties that have been handed down to universities like USC, Miami and Boise State in the past.

Obviously this is the worst-case scenario and again, no allegations have been sent to the university for either football or basketball. The report from the Advocate stated that LSU attorneys want to keep the two investigations separate because "the school and the NCAA agreed that the football investigation had been concluded" and that the basketball review by the IARP could take as long as "6-12 months to conclude." 

In a letter obtained by Sports Illustrated, Wade's representation writes that the NCAA claims it has "received information reflecting potential violations by Coach Wade," information which Wade nor his representation has been presented.

It appears the investigations into the LSU the football and basketball programs are far from over yet are on a collision course for answers. What those answers look like could change the landscape of LSU athletics for years to come or become just a wild two-year story.