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BEST THUG ATHLETE Phoenix 2007 - Loren Wade

We wish we could say that Loren Wade was the reason Dirk Koetter's no longer head football coach at Arizona State University. But, sadly, Koetter's dismissal had more to do with his mediocre win-loss record. This newspaper reported in detail how Koetter had coddled thugs on the ASU team, and Wade was the best example of the ex-coach's philosophy: As long as you're valuable enough to the team, you can get away with... well, anything short of murder. Which is exactly what Koetter let his star tailback do.

There were several warning signs that Wade was a timebomb about to explode. He had threatened ASU gymnast Trisha Dixon and soccer player Haley von Blommestein, his girlfriend, over a period of weeks, and Koetter let it go. Wade was too important to Koetter's need for a winning season to suspend from the team before a violent crime was committed. With knowledge that Wade had possibly threatened Dixon's life, ASU allowed Wade to practice three times with the team in 2005 before he brandished a pistol at Brandon Falkner outside a Scottsdale nightclub. One witness said he was holding the gun gangster-style. The weapon discharged (Wade said accidentally), but the result was that ex-ASU football player Falkner was dead. Wade apparently acted in a jealous rage because Falkner had been chatting with von Blommestein minutes before.

Wade was sentenced in Maricopa County Superior Court this summer to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder.

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