By the time afternoon rolled into evening Wednesday, LSU had pulled off a stunning and major coup, striking a deal to bring Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward back to his hometown and alma mater — a deal that came just hours after LSU had moved on from its 11th-year athletic director, Joe Alleva.
Woodward, an alumnus of Catholic High and LSU, will take over as athletic director, sources close to the LSU athletic department staff told The Advocate. He will replace Alleva, who, according to an announcement from the university, will transition into a new role as special assistant to the president for donor relations.
The end of Alleva's tenure was cast as a smooth exit toward retirement, but his reassignment included more deliberation behind closed doors.
The decision to remove Alleva as athletic director was made Tuesday night during a tight-lipped executive meeting held by the LSU Board of Supervisors, according to a board member who asked not to be identified because university officials asked members to remain quiet.
Joe Alleva has stepped down as LSU's athletic director, the university announced Wednesday afternoon.
The board mentioned only "potential litigation" as its official business at the meeting, but board members were expecting a briefing on men's basketball coach Will Wade's return from suspension, in addition to discussing unrelated lawsuits, two sources with close knowledge of the board told The Advocate on Tuesday.
Not all board members were involved in the meeting. Some were miffed and some were not supportive of the decision to remove Alleva.
By 4 p.m. Wednesday, LSU had announced an official statement.
"We are grateful to Joe for his years of service and dedication to LSU," LSU President F. King Alexander said in the statement. "Under his leadership, LSU Athletics has become even more nationally competitive and our student-athletes have reached new levels of academic achievement."
Alleva's $725,000-per-year contract with the university 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, which is about $650,000.
LSU would have needed to pay Alleva 35 percent of the balance, or about $227,500, within 30 days of his termination, and the rest would have been paid in equal monthly payments over the next 30 months.
The reason Scott Woodward was able to turn his back on Texas A&M’s millions, its proximity to a bottomless talent pool and two top-tier co…
Alleva's resignation comes at a time when the LSU athletic program is embroiled in controversy, tied to a sprawling college basketball corruption scandal that includes a lengthy FBI investigation into the sport.
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. His return ended a nearly month-long silence between him and the LSU athletic program, stemming from Wade's reported conversation with a middleman accused of funneling bribes to assistant coaches and cash to families of recruits.
Wade met with LSU on Friday, and Alleva said in a statement Sunday that Wade had been reinstated and "answered all questions and denied any wrongdoing."
In the hours following Alleva's resignation, the university closed in on obtaining Woodward, who had been at Texas A&M since January 2016.
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.
Joe Alleva has stepped down as LSU's athletic director, the university announced Wednesday afternoon, ending his 11-year career with at the un…
The Texas A&M athletic department did not respond to multiple attempts for comment.
At A&M, two of Woodward's biggest feats have been major coaching hires: luring Buzz Williams from Virginia Tech to replace Billy Kennedy as men's basketball coach, and hiring Jimbo Fisher to a 10-year, $75 million deal from Florida State to replace Kevin Sumlin as football coach.
Woodward was the athletic director at the University of Washington from 2008-15 and served as 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, when he was then-Chancellor Mark Emmert's representative to the athletic department as the director of external affairs.
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.
Alleva, 65, took over the LSU athletic department in 2008, replacing legendary baseball coach Skip Bertman, who stepped down after seven years in the same role.
Fans' disappointment and frustration with Alleva centered in part on LSU's lack of national championships won at during his tenure, particularly with the football program.
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva is expected to step down soon, according to Baton Rouge Business Report.
LSU football had won the 2007 BCS national championship the year before Alleva arrived, and the Tigers have since made it as far as national runner-up in 2011.
The LSU football program began to slip in the seasons following that title game appearance, and the Tigers went 105-37 (a 73.9 winning percentage) in their 11 seasons in Alleva's tenure.
Most of that was under former football coach Les Miles, who was fired in 2016 after the Tigers began the season ranked No. 5 but fell out of the Top 25 after a 2-2 start.
Miles was nearly fired the year before. The Advocate reported Dec. 4, 2015, that representatives from LSU and representatives for Fisher, a former LSU assistant who was then at Florida State, were in discussions days before the Tigers beat Texas A&M in what many believed would be Miles' final game as coach.
Alleva said then that he only "looked at options" and made "inquiries" regarding a potential new coach.
Speaking at Southeastern Conference media days last summer, Fisher, now at Texas A&M, said "unfortunately it just didn't work out at the time" when asked about LSU and Fisher's reported discussions.
When Miles was fired in 2016, Alleva insisted that he would run LSU's search for a new football coach. During a radio interview with WNXX-FM, Alleva said: "I'm the search."
In November 2016, The Advocate reported that LSU decision-makers used Fisher's talked-about candidacy as a ruse to quietly negotiate with then-Houston coach Tom Herman and stay ahead of the University of Texas to strike a deal with Herman.
A potential deal with Herman collapsed in part because of reports that surfaced from HornsDigest.com that strongly linked Herman to the LSU job, and LSU leaders blamed Herman's camp for leaking the information and ended discussions, refusing to be part of a bidding war with someone who leveraged LSU's interest into an eventual job with the Longhorns.
By the end of the 2016 season, Alleva handed the job to Orgeron, who had gone 6-2 as the interim coach after Miles' departure.
LSU football has yet to break its eight-game losing streak to Alabama that dates to 2011. The streak has continued under Orgeron.
Last year, however, LSU had its most successful season since 2013 with a 10-3 record and a victory in the Fiesta Bowl — its first New Year's Six bowl game victory in the College Football Playoff era. The Tigers will likely be a preseason Top 10 team this fall.
LSU baseball (2009) and men's golf (2015) were the two programs to win team national championships under Alleva.
Men's and women's track and field has won 34 individual national championships across its outdoor and indoor programs since 2009, and the women's gymnastics team has flourished, with nine individual national championships won during Alleva's tenure.
Financially under Alleva, LSU was always near the top among other national programs when it came to total revenue.
LSU's profit margin climbed to as high as $56.1 million under Alleva, raking in most of its cash from a vastly profitable football program.
LSU pulled in $145 million in total revenue in 2017-18, and in 2016-17, LSU ranked No. 9 nationally with a total revenue of $147 million.
A considerable percentage of those revenues came from the seven neutral-site games the LSU football program played during Alleva's tenure.
LSU alumnus and Baton Rouge native Scott Woodward will be the university's next athletic director, sources told The Advocate on Wednesday, rep…
LSU made nearly $23 million across those games, including a $4.75 million guarantee for playing Miami in the 2018 season opener at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Some debate stirred around those "pay games" among LSU supporters who wanted to see top regular-season games at Tiger Stadium instead of on the road.
That issue was among many reasons that helped explain waning attendance among ticket holders within the past decade.
Miami was the last scheduled neutral-site opener, and Alleva drew iconic football programs to Tiger Stadium with deals with Texas (2020), UCLA (2024), Clemson (2026), Oklahoma (2028) and Arizona State (2029).
"Our fans have been anxious for to us to play quality opponents in Tiger Stadium," Alleva told The Advocate in August.
LSU averaged 100,819 in recorded home attendance in 2018, with announced sellouts against Louisiana Tech, Georgia and Alabama, after the school ranked sixth nationally in 2017 with an average recorded attendance of 98,506.
There were multiple major renovation projects under Alleva, which included the 2014 expansion of the south end zone of Tiger Stadium, the construction of a gymnastics practice facility and a tennis center.
Projects are still underway to expand the baseball program's hitting facility, plus a $23 million construction project to renovate the football operations center.
LSU twice finished within the top 20 rankings for the Learfield Directors' Cup (LSU was No. 15 in 2014-15, and No. 18 in 2016-17), an annual award given to universities based on the combined performance of a program's athletic teams.
Alleva received a $50,000 incentive bonus for both Top 20 finishes, and this year, LSU ranks 26th nationally in the Learfield Cup standings, sixth among SEC programs.
LSU's athletic programs all maintained a score above 925 in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate, which calculates the number of athletes that stay in school and are academically eligible, in five consecutive years from 2012-13 until 2016-17, which netted another $50,000 bonus for each year.
The men's basketball program eventually found consistency in its APR score during Alleva's tenure. From 2004-05 until 2011-12, the program recorded an APR score above 925 once (in 2007-08), and its score of 905 in the 2009-10 academic year led to an immediate penalty of one scholarship reduction.
Advocate reporters Mark Ballard and Bryn Stole contributed to this report.