NEW ORLEANS – About 20 college football programs have asked LSU for permission to speak with cornerback and punt returner Tyrann Mathieu.

Mathieu was kicked off the LSU football team Friday, reportedly for the latest of several failed drug tests. He hasn’t announced his plans for this season.

Herb Vincent, the vice chancellor of communications, provided the 20-schools figure Wednesday, but added that LSU only considers granting requests to schools Mathieu has approved.

“This is consistent with the way we handle transfer requests for other LSU student-athletes,” Vincent said.

Vincent said he cannot release which schools have been in touch with LSU and which have been approved other than McNeese State, which already announced that Mathieu visited its campus in Lake Charles, La.

Nicholls State officials said Wednesday they received permission from LSU’s compliance department to speak with Mathieu, but have not yet met with the 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist.

Officials at Jackson State and Prairie View said LSU rejected their requests to pursue Mathieu.

Officials at McNeese State, where classes began Wednesday, say there remains some leeway for Mathieu to enroll in the next few days.

Classes begin at Nicholls State on Aug. 22.

As for the possibility of Mathieu returning to LSU in 2013, Vincent reiterated recent comments that the university “will not speculate on Tyrann’s future with the LSU football program at this time.”

“We can only state that he is eligible to continue his academic career at LSU and that he will not be a member of the LSU football team for the 2012 season,” Vincent said. “Any other comments on his future at LSU will be made at the appropriate time if necessary.”

Mathieu can only play this season if he joins a program at the FCS level, the second tier of Division I, or a team in a lower division. If he wants to play another season at the Division I FBS level, he would have to wait until 2013, but will have become eligible for the NFL by then.

McNeese State and Nicholls State play in the Southland Conference, one of the top leagues at the FCS level.

Nicholls State is in Thibodaux, La., about an hour’s drive southwest of Mathieu’s native New Orleans. McNeese State is more than 200 miles west.

Mathieu is nicknamed Honey Badger for his tenacious style and small stature.