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'Technically, I am responsible'

By ROGER MILLS

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 10, 2001


Paul Griffin said Friday that he was asked to resign as athletic director in the midst of what has been a public relations nightmare for the University of South Florida. He talked with Times staff writer Roger Mills on Friday, 24 hours after submitting his letter of resignation.

Q: What did you do wrong?

A: Well, when you second-guess yourself, I think the easiest thing to do would have been to hand off the series of concerns to someone else for them to deal with and not assume the responsibility for managing your own affairs, in this (circumstance). On the other hand, that's my job. I had a job to do. There are a lot of things that fall under the guise of the athletic director.

Q: Do you have any ill will toward the university for taking the stand to ask you to resign?

A: I'm intelligent enough to understand a lot of things. Now, whether I agree with them is another issue, but I understand them. It's not for me to take shots at USF. I've worked extraordinarily hard to build the program over a 15-year period and there are a lot of things I take pride in and I prefer to look at in a positive manner.

Q: In your mind, why were you asked to resign?

A: What has happened is that as the monthly dose of Jonathan Alpert press conferences continued on, the president (was) receiving pressure to make that go away. To clean the house. (The press conferences) averaged one a month. With the legislative session started Tuesday, I guess I apparently had to go.

Q: So, are you saying you were the ultimate scapegoat?

A: I don't look at myself as a scapegoat. I was the boss and I guess, technically, I am responsible and when you're in charge you have to accept responsibility for everything along the road. I've never been one to shuck responsibility.

Q: How significant was Hiram Green's declaration in the final decision?

A: Not very. It was a series of ongoing things. The theory of this widespread conspiracy that involves two presidents, two vice presidents, an athletic director and a whole host of other people was a ludicrous concept. I personally believe that the only people that would believe in such a widespread conspiracy believe that O.J. (Simpson) was a victim of a similar conspiracy throughout all of California.

Q: Do you fault the players for filing a lawsuit?

A: I have no problem with anyone exercising their individual rights. With the exception of the Dione Smith situation, all the others will be thrown out quickly, once the judge looks into them. The others are totally frivolous.

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