McNeese hires Will Wade as men’s basketball head coach

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Published: Mar. 12, 2023 at 11:24 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 12, 2023 at 8:10 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Will Wade has been hired as the next head coach for the McNeese men’s basketball team.

The announcement came Sunday after McNeese announced Wednesday that John Aiken, who had been the head coach for two seasons, had been let go.

Wade’s name has been linked to the Cowboys for quite some time through rumors, and on Sunday, McNeese made it official as they hired Wade to be the 12th head coach of the Cowboys.

“I’m so excited to welcome Coach Wade, his wife Lauren and daughter Caroline to Southwest Louisiana and McNeese!” McNeese Athletic Director Heath Schroyer said. “This is a completely different job than it was three years ago. McNeese Basketball is one of the best jobs in the nation in regards to one-bid leagues. We are funded at the top of the league, have the best facility, a passionate fan base and many other built-in advantages. I will not make excuses for why we can’t win and win big. Quite frankly, there is no excuse.”

Wade arrived at the Lake Charles Regional Airport on Sunday, March 12, and credited Schroyer as a big reason why he chose to come to Southwest Louisiana.

“Heath has done a great job, but you know I love it, I love the state, I love this area, and I’m looking forward to getting to know everybody in Southwest Louisiana,” Wade said. “I’m really excited to be here at McNeese and you know, there’s a lot of people that reached out, but, but I felt most comfortable with Heath.”

Coming to McNeese, Wade made it clear that he understands the expectations of the job that he is taking on, and that he expects to compete right away.

“We should be competing at the top of this league, I expect to compete at the top of the league, we’re going to do that and we’re going to do it quickly,” coach Wade said. “We’re not here to rebuild, this thing is going to happen quickly, and we expect to be competing at the league championship.”

He spoke highly of the strong fanbase the Cowboys have.

“We host the league tournament, we have the best venue, I mean it’s incredible. I was looking at the stats the other day, we were one of the worst teams in the league, and we led the league in attendance,” Wade said. “There’s a great fan base here and we’re here to ignite that and bring everybody together to win a lot of basketball games.”

A formal introduction for Coach Wade will be held Monday at noon in the Legacy Center.

Wade doesn’t come to Lake Charles without controversy though. Exactly a year to the day before McNeese announced the hire of the former LSU head coach, Wade was fired after LSU received a notice of allegations that detailed significant misconduct that included seven Level I violation allegations, and a Level II violation allegation.

His new job as the head coach of the Cowboys is his first job since being fired by LSU on March 12, 2022.

In five seasons with LSU, Wade held an overall record of 108-54, and lead the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament three times in five seasons. He also helped LSU win their first SEC Regular Season Title in a decade in 2019, and led them to the Sweet Sixteen, which was their furthest run in the NCAA Tournament since 2006.

Wade served as the LSU head coach from 2017 until 2022 when he was let go ahead of the NCAA Tournament.

Prior to arriving in Baton Rouge, Wade served as the head coach at VCU from 2015 to 2017, and at Chattanooga from 2013 to 2015.

Wade helped lead LSU to the NCAA Tournament in 2019, 2021, and 2022, and brought VCU to the NCAA Tournament in each of his two seasons at the helm for the Rams.

After the announcement was made that McNeese and John Aiken had parted ways, Schroyer held a press conference where he discussed expectations for the next head coach.

“I want to be elite, I want to compete for conference, and tournament championships, period. That is the expectation of this program moving forward,” said Schroyer. “It really is for all of our sports, but in men’s basketball right now, our window to become relevant regionally, and nationally, is right now, and we’re going to find a head coach who not only understands those expectations but embraces those expectations.”

McNeese, who hasn’t won a Southland Conference Regular Season Title since 2011, and hasn’t won the Conference Tournament since 2002, hopes the experience and knowledge of Wade give the Cowboys an opportunity to meet the expectations set forward by Schroyer.

Wade is scheduled to be officially introduced as the 12th head coach of the McNeese Cowboys on Monday.

For the most up-to-date updates on McNeese Athletics, follow KPLC 7Sports on Facebook and Twitter, and KPLC Sports Director Matthew Travis.