LSU coach Will Wade expressed regret Tuesday for the actions that led to his suspension during the SEC and NCAA tournaments while categorically denying allegations levied by Emanuel "Book" Richardson during the college basketball corruption trial in federal court in New York City.
Speaking at the SEC spring meetings -- where he addressed reporters for the first time since March -- Wade said he was "here to start the process of rebuilding trust."
"As I've had time to reflect since I was out for 40 days or so -- there were some mistakes that I made," Wade said Tuesday. "But ever since that, since I was able to sit down and talk to LSU and the NCAA, I was fully cooperative."
Wade's regret, he said, was getting lawyers involved rather than sitting down with LSU immediately. Acting "in haste" and involving lawyers drew out the timeline and led to his 40-day suspension, he said.
"I wish, looking back on things, we could have gotten into a room together a lot quicker than we did," Wade said. "That was my mistake. I respect LSU's decision based on that."
Wade would not comment on what was said during those meetings with LSU and NCAA officials, citing them as "private and confidential," but he reiterated that he was forthright in conversations of which "there was no limit of scope."
In March, ESPN and Yahoo Sports reported prosecutors were trying to enter as evidence a wiretap that they said included Wade describing his frustration with his inability to close a "strong-ass offer" for a recruit. ESPN reported that Wade's frustration was with the handler of former top-50 recruit Javonte Smart, who ultimately signed with the Tigers.
Wade was suspended indefinitely by the university the following day. He did not coach the team through the SEC and NCAA tournaments and was not reinstated until after he met with school and NCAA officials in mid-April.
Wade would not address the allegations but did take time to dispute the allegations of Richardson, who said during the trial that Wade had told him there was a $300,000 deal in place to land Naz Reid.
"It was absolutely false and did not happen," Wade said.
Asked whether any exchange of money has ever taken place with a student-athlete or their family, Wade would not comment. He also sidestepped a question about the reports of an offer to Smart.
"It's a good question," Wade said. "I can't get into the specifics of everything, like I was saying earlier. I can assure you in my meetings with LSU and the NCAA, I've addressed all the media reports and what was said and I was reinstated."
Asked whether he ever said the words "strong-ass offer," Wade told reporters, "I've not heard the recording so I don't know."
The coach said he hoped to one day get to the point of full disclosure, "but we're not at that place right now."