A day after the whirlwind news of a shakeup in the LSU athletic department, the school officially announced that Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward is coming back to his hometown to take the same position in Baton Rouge.

Woodward, an alumnus of Catholic High and LSU, said he was "returning home" in a joint news release with the university, adding that it was "incredibly humbling and exciting" to join LSU and that the Tigers athletic programs "will win championships and we will do it the right way."

LSU removed 11-year athletic director Joe Alleva and struck a deal with Woodward in a matter of hours — a swift transition uncharacteristic of such regime changes within Division I athletic departments, which can sometimes take several months.

The university was able to move quickly, according to sources close to the LSU athletic department, because the LSU Board of Supervisors had already secured interest from Woodward, a dream candidate conventional wisdom would have deemed untouchable at wealthy Texas A&M, which hauled in nearly $212 million in athletic revenue in 2016-17, reportedly second-most in the nation.

Conversations among board members about their dissatisfaction with Alleva were already underway when Woodward emerged as a possible candidate, the sources said.

The LSU athletic program is embroiled in controversy, tied to a sprawling college basketball corruption scandal with a lengthy FBI investigation that includes wiretapped conversations of men's basketball coach Will Wade and a middleman accused of funneling bribes to assistant coaches and cash to families of recruits.

On Sunday, Wade returned from a suspension that kept him out of the regular-season finale and LSU's NCAA tournament run to the Sweet 16. Wade had met with university officials Friday — his refusal to do so is what led LSU to suspend him — and Alleva said the coach had been reinstated after answering all questions and denying any wrongdoing.

But Alleva's removal had little to do with Wade, the sources told The Advocate. The board felt Alleva had lost the confidence of much of LSU's core support base.

In late March, the LSU system launched a $1.5 billion fundraising campaign, the largest target amount for any such fundraising effort in the history of Louisiana. Board members wanted an athletic director who could galvanize donors and who had a reputation for being a successful fundraiser.


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But Alleva's $725,000-per-year contract with the university made a transition difficult. The contract is set to expire June 30, 2020, and if he were fired by LSU without cause, Alleva would be entitled to 100 percent of the remaining base salary, about $650,000.

Board Chairman James Williams, who had known Woodward during his time at LSU, initially reached out to him about a possible deal, sources said.

Woodward arrived with the Texas A&M baseball team when it traveled to play a three-game series at Alex Box Stadium from April 5-6. Williams forwarded the requests for comment about his role in landing Woodward to LSU. University spokesman Ernie Ballard refused to answer the questions in an email, saying only "this is a time for us to welcome Scott Woodward back home" and to thank Joe Alleva for his service. 

Woodward still has close relationships and old friendships in Baton Rouge, where he worked from 2000-04 as then-Chancellor Mark Emmert's representative to the athletic department as the director of external affairs.

Those close ties permitted an organic environment for both parties to express their mutual interest in Woodward becoming LSU's new athletic director, the sources said.

Woodward earned a stellar reputation as a deal-maker and program builder as the athletic director at the University of Washington and Texas A&M, which board members who favored courting him felt would give LSU a needed boost among supporters.

It also presented an opportunity for a smooth and swift transition between Alleva and Woodward.

Once Woodward emerged as a possible candidate, conversations on the board turned into a series of actions, which included keying in LSU President F. King Alexander. Asked Thursday for comment, Alexander responded in an email: “As President, I am responsible for hiring and firing athletic directors. I am happy to bring Scott Woodward home to LSU, and we are looking forward to the future of LSU Athletics.”

The decision to remove Alleva as athletic director was made Tuesday night during a tight-lipped executive meeting held by the board, according to several board members who asked not to be identified.

The board mentioned only "potential litigation" as its official business at the meeting, but by the end of the night, the move to replace Alleva with Woodward had been made. But not all board members were in attendance.

Members expected that Alleva was going to retire, but Alexander wanted to retain him as a "special assistant to the president for donor relations" — a position that caught many by surprise.

Richard Lipsey, a founding member of the Tiger Athletic Foundation, which financially supports LSU sports, said Thursday he laughed when he heard of moving Alleva into the president’s office.

“The president has never raised any money, and neither has Joe Alleva,” said Lipsey, a frequent critic of Alexander.

It is uncertain what responsibilities Alleva will have in his new position.

Alleva was informed of his reassignment by Alexander, according to several sources close the athletic program, and Wednesday, the university officially announced Alleva was stepping down. A deal was struck with Woodward hours later, the sources said.

According to The Dallas Morning News, Woodward earned $900,000 in base salary as part of a five-year deal that expires in January 2021. He owes Texas A&M about $40,000 for leaving, according to the terms of the contract.

At A&M, two of Woodward's biggest achievements were luring Buzz Williams from Virginia Tech to be men's basketball coach and hiring Jimbo Fisher as football coach.Woodward was the athletic director at the University of Washington from 2008-15 and was the school's vice chancellor of external affairs from 2004-08. The latter was a similar position to the one he held at LSU from 2000-04 under Emmert. Before that, Woodward was a political consultant and legislative liaison in Baton Rouge, where he founded a government and public relations firm in the mid-1990s.With Larose native Ed Orgeron as LSU's football coach, Woodward's hiring marks the first time since February 1955 that LSU's athletic director and football coach are both from Louisiana. T.P. "Skipper" Heard was athletic director then, and Gaynell Tinsley was the football coach before being succeeded that year by Paul Dietzel.