VCU wasted little time in finding Wade’s replacement, hiring Rice coach Mike Rhoades, a former Rams assistant and longtime Randolph-Macon head coach. Rhoades will be introduced at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Siegel Center.
Wade guided the Rams to the Atlantic 10 championship game and the NCAA tournament in both of his seasons. He agreed to a six-year contract with LSU, a person familiar with the negotiations said.
LSU vice chancellor and athletic director Joe Alleva flew to Richmond on Sunday with deputy AD Eddie Nunez and met with Wade for several hours.
The Tigers’ search began when they fired Johnny Jones on March 10 after five seasons, with two years left on his contract. LSU was 10-21 this season.
Wade, 34, has been a head coach for only four years, the first two at Chattanooga, after cutting his teeth as an assistant under Shaka Smart at VCU. Wade guided the Rams to a 51-20 record and is 91-45 overall as a head coach.
Wade received an eight-year contract extension from VCU after his first season that called for him to make $1.4 million this season, plus incentives, and $1.5 million in each of the remaining seasons. LSU will pay the Rams $1 million as compensation for hiring Wade and agree to a home-and-home series with VCU within three years.
In a statement released Tuesday, VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin said that during his annual end-of-the-season meeting with Wade: “Will and I agreed on the necessary next steps, and we met all of Will’s requests. He ultimately decided he would rather coach elsewhere.”
The Rams have reached the NCAA tournament for seven straight seasons. VCU and Kansas are the only teams that have won at least 24 games in each of the last 11 seasons, but because of that success, the Rams have lost four coaches to jobs in Power Five conferences since 2006.
The Rams will lose five graduating seniors from this year’s team, including scoring leader JeQuan Lewis, and are slated to have only two seniors on next year’s team. They were expected to be bolstered by a recruiting class ranked among the top 25 by several services that grade recruiting, but some of those recruits may now revisit those commitments.
Rhoades will try to retain those players. He served as a VCU assistant coach under Smart before leaving in 2014 to accept the Rice job.
Rhoades had a five-year deal at Rice and is expected to get a six-year contract at VCU, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The 44-year-old Pennsylvania native guided Rice to a 47-52 record. Nearly half those victories came during the 2016-17 campaign as the Owls went 23-12 to earn a berth in the College Basketball Invitational.
Rhoades has deep ties to the Richmond area. From 1996-2009, he worked at Randolph-Macon, serving as an assistant for three years before becoming the head coach at 25.
“Tough day,” Rhoades told Fox 26 in Houston about his decision to leave. “I love these guys at Rice. But the foundation here is really strong.”
Even before Rhoades’ hiring became known, McLaughlin said, “We have a world-class practice facility, a sold-out arena every night and one of the greatest fan bases in all of college basketball. VCU basketball is bigger than one person. We remain committed to ensuring that VCU basketball remains a top-25 program nationally. We have a tradition of remarkable success that is focused ultimately on providing our student-athletes with a positive experience, focusing on our core values: student-athlete focus, drive to excel and integrity.”
Other wire services contributed to this report.