LSU AD Scott Woodward says program prepared to ‘thrive’ paying players directly

An era of grand, sweeping changes for college sports is set to continue after the NCAA and the power conferences agreed last Thursday to settle three anti-trust lawsuits. The settlement will pave the way for players to be paid by schools directly, with a budget of up to $20 million annually.

While schools are scrambling to figure out how the logistics of this change will work, LSU athletics director Scott Woodward isn’t too concerned, saying that the program is prepared to “thrive” under the new model, which will allow schools to have greater control over the process.

“(The NFL) did change,” Woodward told Wilson Alexander of The Advocate. “But did it end it? Did it cause it to decline? Not really. I think this is kind of going to be similar, in my opinion. (College sports are) going to be different. Do I like the way it is? Do I prefer the way it was? Of course. But we’re going to thrive in the way it is and we’re going to make the best of it.

“I’m most pleased with it because it’s going to put some certainty back in what we do. Do I like it? Not necessarily. No one likes change. But I see this as a good opportunity for us because our athletic department had great success in this chaotic world that we’re in right now with NIL and the (transfer) portal and all that stuff. I think that’s a testament to LSU and the brand and how strong it is. I look forward to the future, frankly.”

Some schools may struggle to make up for the additional budgeting pitfalls that will stem from paying players directly, but as one of the nation’s wealthiest programs, LSU is expected to weather the storm with Woodward saying that money will come from several avenues.

“It’s going to come from a lot of places,” Woodward said. “From growth in revenue, and everyone knows what that is. It’s TV growth, it’s admissions [ticket prices] growth, which we do very carefully. It’s growth in our apparel contracts or multimedia rights contracts. And then a big part of this is us continuing to try to keep our expenses relatively sane and run it as efficiently as possible.”

For Woodward, the bottom line is that college football has been in a state of “chaos” since NIL was implemented a few years ago. He believes LSU has managed those changes well and is poised to handle more.

“This has been chaotic for a few years now and we’ve done very well,” Woodward said. “I think this program has those expectations. I certainly have those expectations.”

We don’t know what the direct payment of college athletes is going to look like in practice, and Woodward likely doesn’t either. But it seems that the Tigers welcome this change rather than view it as an existential threat.

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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire