In setting the tone for his role as LSU’s new athletic director, Scott Woodward might have obliquely hinted at the reasons that opened the path for him to return to his alma mater in the first place.
“We all have to be rowing in the same direction,” Woodward said Thursday in a phone interview. “We’re doomed to mediocrity if we fight with each other. I’m looking forward to getting everyone on the same page and in the same boat, rowing in the same direction.
“If we can do that, our potential is limitless.”
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LSU named Woodward its 10th athletic director Thursday. He is scheduled to be formally introduced at a news conference on Tuesday, according to senior associate athletic director Robert Munson.
Woodward succeeds Joe Alleva, who was moved into a new role as special assistant to the president for donor relations after serving 11 years as athletic director.
Woodward said when he left LSU 15 years ago, he never set it as a definite career milepost to return one day.
But now that he is back, he said the job is “a dream come true” for the former Catholic High graduate who grew up in the shadow of LSU and attended the school that he said made a huge impression on him personally.
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“You never know where life takes you,” Woodward said. “You just make the next move. It’s more organic. I’m honored and humbled that my alma mater wanted me to come back and serve it.
“I’m almost speechless to talk about it.”
Woodward declined to discuss the timeline that brought him to LSU from Texas A&M, where he has been athletic director since 2016. Before that, he was athletic director at Washington from 2008-15, having left LSU with former chancellor Mark Emmert in 2004.
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Under Emmert, Woodward served as director of external affairs at LSU from 2000-04.
Woodward acknowledged that he had a good job at Texas A&M and indicated that LSU was perhaps the only school that could have made him leave.
Woodward went to A&M to work under school president Mike Young, who succeeded Emmert as Washington’s president when Emmert left in 2010 to become NCAA president.
“I love the people there,” he said. “Aggieland is a wonderful place. I worked for a fabulous boss in president Mike Young. There is no one with higher integrity.”
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Asked what his priorities will be at LSU, Woodward said his initial task is to take a page out of the physician’s Hippocratic oath: First do no harm.
“I know the traditions and the special feel of LSU as well as anyone,” he said. “I don’t want to take away from the excitement and passion of LSU athletics, and what it means for the state. We want to make sure we get it right and continue to get it right.”
Woodward was eager to take the intense current spotlight off himself, likening his job to that of an executive producer of a moving working well behind the sliver screen.
“I don’t take myself too seriously,” he said. “It’s not about Scott Woodward. You hire great talent. You give your student-athletes opportunities and the staff to support them, and you run things on time and with integrity.
“When you leave a movie, you don’t know who the executive producer is. But you know who the talent is.”
The type of movie Woodward would produce would probably be a love story about LSU.
“LSU was a transformational experience for me in my life,” he said. “My four years there as an undergraduate were magical. It forever changed me. It was spellbinding.
“It’s a love affair that doesn’t go away. I owe a lot of people credit for helping me in my career and in my life, but none more than LSU.”