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Selmon set to tackle new role

He resigns as AD but stays on as USF's chief fundraiser.

PETE YOUNG
Published February 27, 2004

TAMPA - Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon is changing positions.

The South Florida athletic director ended his six-plus week sabbatical due to a "private health matter" on Thursday, stepping down as AD and stepping into a new position as chief fundraiser for USF athletics.

"Having participated in sports, oftentimes roles change with team members to try to improve," said Selmon, whose new title is president of the USF Foundation Partnership for Athletics. "We've got the platform with the Big East, we've got the ($18-million athletic facility) going up over there. Now we have to meet other needs in the infrastructure.

"The Big East is a platform we want to maximize. I will pursue it relentlessly."

Several people close to Selmon, 49, indicated his health issue was stress-related, but he appeared vibrant during the announcement and said he is in good health.

Selmon touted his new position as a better fit for his abilities and USF's needs. He will try to bridge a multimillion dollar athletic budget gap with the schools the Bulls will be joining in the Big East in 2005. "I remember on many occasions in my role as (AD), meeting with development staff and sharing ... "I'm in the wrong place,' " Selmon said. "I don't need to be at this desk. I need to be in the community. I have a great story to tell (about USF)."

USF will begin a national search for an AD. President Judy Genshaft named a 10-member search committee chaired by USF Foundation president Hinks Shimberg. It includes Outback Steakhouse CEO Chris Sullivan, a prominent USF booster, and USF board of trustees member John Ramil, president of Tampa Electric Co.

"At this point, going into the Big East, (USF is) in position to become a major, major force in athletics in the United States," Shimberg said. University vice presidents Carl Carlucci and Michael Rierson, who have filled in during Selmon's sabbatical, remain co-interim athletic directors.

Selmon's tenure as AD was short, less than three years, but marked with significant highlights, notably USF's invitation to join the Big East and with it gain a coveted spot in a league affiliated with the Bowl Championship Series.

"He took us to the door of the Big East," said USF associate athletic director for development Vicki Mitchell, who will be executive director of Selmon's new organization. "If he can't continue (as AD), I can tell you this man wants to finish what he started. He has a profound desire to do that, and he has a profound love of interacting with the community."

One of Selmon's primary purposes as an associate AD in 1993 was to assist with fundraising for the new football program. Propelled by Selmon's efforts, gifts to USF athletics have risen from $410,534 in 1992 to $4.315-million in 2003.

Fundraising is a key element of the 10-15-year plan for athletics that USF has been formulating since Genshaft and Selmon made their pitch to Big East administrators in the fall in New Jersey.

"We discussed this ... on the way back from the meeting," Rierson said. "That we were going to need a long-range plan and a new structure for fundraising to focus on facilities and endowments. ... As sad as (Selmon's resignation as AD) is, it affords us the opportunity to accelerate our plans and put our best asset forward, and that's Lee Roy Selmon on the front line leading the way in fundraising."

Selmon, a mainstay of Tampa since starring as a defensive end for the Bucs in the '70s and early '80s, emphasized taking care of "endowment needs and facilities needs." Asked about an on-campus football stadium, he said, "There's more before that. At a later time we'll be unleashing a bigger master plan."

Selmon's first order of business will be to raise $4-million to reach the fundraising goal of $10-million for the new athletic facility.

USF's operating budget for athletics has grown rapidly with the implementation of football in 1997, but it pales in comparison with its Big East brethren.

In 1902-03, USF's budget was $15.99-million and is projected at $17.4-million in 1903-04.

The field of candidates to replace Selmon figures to be plentiful. Associate ADs in the Big East and administrators with BCS ties, as well as ADs from leagues such as Conference USA, in which USF will play its final season in 2004-05, all could figure in the mix.

Among those who might make USF's short list are SEC associate commissioner Mark Womack, LSU associate AD Dan Radakovich, Tulane AD Rick Dickson, James Madison AD Jeff Bourne, Orange Bowl executive director Keith Tribble, Tennessee women's athletic director Joan Cronin, Florida State associate AD Charlie Carr and Southern Miss AD Richard Giannini.

Internally, candidates may include senior associate AD Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy and associate AD Barry Clements, who have been at USF for more than 20 years each.

Selmon's base salary for 2003-04 is $165,400. His new salary has not been determined. Selmon will report to Rierson.

"Now is the time, and there is a sense of urgency on my part," Selmon said "I feel there is a sense or urgency and we want to move as quickly as we can to reach these lofty challenges and goals."

MONEY MATTERS

Gifts and commitments to USF athletics:*

1992 - $410,534

1993 - $610,707

1994 - $814,732

1995 - $2,942,701

1996 - $969,067

1997 - $1,579,593

1998 - $2,546,612

1999 - $2,181,830

2000 - $3,433,479

2001 - $1,852,872

2002 - $2,769,815

2003 - $4,315,000

2004 - $5,000,000**

* Lee Roy Selmon named associate athletic director for external affairs in 1993. He became AD in 2001.

** Projected.

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