3:08 PM PT -- LSU just released a statement on Cashgate ... saying they now believe the money was real and have contacted the NCAA, SEC and the players involved to "rectify the situation."
"We are aware of the situation regarding Odell Beckham Jr. interacting with LSU student-athletes and others unaffiliated with the team following the championship game Monday night," the statement reads.
"Initial information suggested bills that were exchanged were novelty bills. Information and footage reviewed since shows apparent cash may have also been given to LSU student-athletes."
"We were in contact with the NCAA and the SEC immediately upon learning of this situation in which some of our student athletes may have been placed in a compromising position."
Joe Burrow says Odell Beckham gave him REAL cash after LSU won the national championship ... and there's NOTHING the NCAA can do about it.
OBJ was passin' out cash like candy at the Superdome after the Tigers beat Clemson in the natty on Monday ... and the video got so much attention that LSU released a statement claiming the money was fake.