LSU athletics will likely discontinue payments to academics after this year

    LSU’s new athletic director, Scott Woodward, took many by surprise last month, when he said the athletic department is reevaluating the seven-year-old policy under which it has transferred nearly $70 million generated by athletics to academic branches of the cash-tight university.

    In a speech today to the Baton Rouge Rotary Club, Woodward shed fresh light on the changes afoot, saying while the athletic department will continue to help the university, after this year it will likely discontinue making lump-sum payments for academic expenses.

    “We are going to start looking at providing one-time funding to the university, whether for a building or some improvements that are needed or something like that,” Woodward said. “But this year, the university will get its full $11 million.”

    Since 2012, the athletic department has transferred $7.2 million annually as well as a portion of its surplus dollars to help cover LSU’s academic needs under a policy enacted by then-athletic director Joe Alleva. At the time, the university was reeling from steep budget cuts made by the Jindal administration and state legislators. Woodward said he is sympathetic to the cause and understands the thinking behind the agreement.

    “We aren’t going to just cut because this place was eviscerated,” Woodward said. “I watched it from afar. It was criminal what they did and Joe Alleva did the right thing.”

    But the university’s finances have improved under Gov. John Bel Edwards while the athletic department is facing greater financial pressure, and the fund-transfer model is no longer sustainable, he said.

    Woodward also said the Tiger Athletic Foundation will be shifting its focus in the future away from investing so much in buildings and facilities and more in trying to attract top talent.

    “We are pivoting a little from doing bricks and mortar to investing in talent,” he said. “It is a very competitive world … and it is brutal at the top.”

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