At a reception in the uptown New Orleans home of James Carville and Mary Matalin on Friday night, an a cappella choir led a packed crowd in a rendition of the LSU alma mater.

No one came to hear new LSU athletic director Scott Woodward sing. But as he has since taking the job May 6, Woodward hit the right notes.

The reception was a welcome-home party, and Woodward was the guest of honor.

“It’s uncomfortable for me,” Woodward said of being the center of attention. “It’s not who I am. I want to talk about our student-athletes and our coaches. It makes you feel good. But it’s not about me, but what we represent.

“It’s about LSU. It’s wonderful. I can’t say enough about how I hope this translates into great things for this state and for LSU.”

The reception attracted some of the state’s biggest political heavyweights, including Gov. John Bel Edwards, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu and East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III.

“I want to say how excited I am to have Scott back home,” Edwards said.

“We’re going to win a lot of championships.”

An LSU and Catholic High grad and a Baton Rouge native, Woodward returned home last month after 15 years away at the University of Washington and Texas A&M.

“You are where you belong,” Matalin said to Woodward. “We are so glad to have you back.”


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Woodward said he has not had time to do much so far as LSU’s athletic director. But he did say that at the Southeastern Conference Spring Meeting later this month, he will continue LSU’s long-standing attempt to get the conference to “liberalize” its alcohol ban in most seating areas in SEC venues.

Currently alcohol can only be served in premium seating areas such as suites and club seats or specially designated premium areas such as "The Yard" at Alex Box Stadium or "The Chute" at Tiger Stadium. The SEC is the only Power Five conference to prohibit alcohol sales in general seating areas.

“I think we’re going to see some things that really benefit LSU, such as the liberalization of alcohol sales,” said Woodward, who is the only athletic director on the SEC Executive Committee. “I feel good about it.”

Woodward said he expects discussions to continue in Destin about football scheduling as well. Former LSU athletic director Joe Alleva lobbied in vain for years to do away with permanent cross-divisional opponents.

“We’re going to continue to talk about scheduling, and we’re going to do it in the right way,” Woodward said, “first what’s best for LSU and then for the conference.”

Woodward also continued to stress that Louisiana needs to prepare to properly regulate sports betting, which is expanding across the nation. Seven states, including Mississippi, have legalized sports betting.

“We need to make sure from a regulatory standpoint that it’s done right,” Woodward said. “We need to protect the student-athletes.

“But it’s coming. It’s a nationwide trend.”


Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.​