Will Wade's LSU basketball violations were Level I and Level II. Here's what that means

Chris Thomas Adam Sparks
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
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What NCAA violations did LSU basketball coach Will Wade  commit to warrant his firing for cause Saturday?

LSU president William F. Tate IV and athletics director Scott Woodward said the NCAA's Notice of Allegations released last Wednesday showed evidence of major NCAA violations that occurred under Wade's watch.

Wade's contract, which was amended in 2019 after he was reinstated from suspension when the investigation began, includes provisions that outline his firing for cause for  NCAA findings of Level I or Level II violations by Wade.

LSU head coach Will Wade walks along the bench in the first half an NCAA college basketball game against Alabama in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, March 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

According to the Notice of Allegations sent to LSU and released publicly by Sports Illustrated on Saturday, the NCAA's Independent Accountability Resolution Process charged Wade with five Level 1 violations and two Level 2 violations, and charged the university in total with eight Level 1 and two Level 2 violations. That includes a "lack of institutional control" charge.

So what are Level I and Level II violations?

There are subtle but key differences in the two most serious categories of the NCAA’s four-level violation structure, which was introduced in 2013. 

According to the NCAA rulebook, a Level I violation is a severe breach of conduct; Level II is a significant breach of conduct; Level III is a basic breach of conduct; and Level IV is an incidental issue.

Here is a quick summary of Level I and Level II violations to understand the hot water the LSU basketball program is in:

Why Level I violations are the worst

Level I violations are severe, and they seriously undermine or threaten the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model, the association’s rulebook says. They provide substantial or extensive recruiting advantages, major competitive advantages or impermissible benefits.

It also can include a lack of head coach oversight of compliance, academic misconduct, failure to cooperate in an NCAA investigation, unethical or dishonest conduct, cash payments or benefits given to recruits or an extensive collection of Level II or Level III violations.

According to the Notice of Allegations, Wade's violations were premeditated, deliberate and were "committed after substantial planning." Wade also obstructed and failed to cooperate with the investigation and also attempted to conceal violations, according to the Notice. 

Wade offered "inducements" to secure one commitment to LSU and money was paid "for his services as an unauthorized recruiter" for the prospective player. 

Level II violations are systemic but not out of control

Level II violations also provide recruiting advantages, competitive advantages or impermissible benefits. They are significant but not severe. They are more than minimal violations but less than a substantial nature.

Obviously, the distinctions are subjective. But the biggest difference is that Level I violations involve a lack of institutional control, while Level II violations are only systemic.

Level I violations must be “substantial or egregious” in a failure to monitor, per the NCAA rulebook. Level II violations do not rise to that level, especially when it comes to recruiting and financial aid.

A Level II violation can also be a collection of Level III violations. But LSU's description of the violations indicate that its case is more severe than that.

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