By BRIAN LANDMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 22, 2001
TAMPA -- Coaches at South Florida said they realized from Day One that an exhaustive, protracted search for their next boss was unnecessary.
They knew that Lee Roy Selmon was the ideal person to succeed Paul Griffin, who was forced to resign after 15 years as athletic director in the wake of allegations of racism in the women's basketball program.
"Obviously, I'm very excited, and I have tremendous confidence in Lee Roy," men's basketball coach Seth Greenberg said. "What a great ambassador for our university. He exemplifies everything that's good about college athletics.
"He was a magnificent student; he took advantage of his education to open up doors to his future. He has tremendous leadership skills. He's been magnificent on the playing field, and he can really, really communicate with players about using your education to open up doors for the future. I just thought it was a magnificent decision."
Given Selmon's familiarity with the staff, men's tennis coach Don Barr saw the decision as a no-brainer.
"Lee Roy definitely knows the program and knows how it works," Barr said. "I thought he would be the best fit instead of bringing in someone from the outside. ... I think he'll do an excellent job. He's been good at helping put the football program together, and he'll be a good replacement, even though Paul's going to be a tough person to replace."
Selmon, a member of the college and professional football halls of fame, joined USF as an assistant athletic director in 1993 to shepherd a fundraising campaign for the proposed football program.
As a former Buccaneers star and successful businessman, Selmon is known throughout the Tampa Bay area; he even has an expressway named after him.
"Lee Roy has a very positive image, and that's going to help this university," volleyball coach Nancy Mueller said. "He knows a lot of people and is well-respected for what he's done with the Buccaneers and for what he's done here."
Baseball coach Eddie Cardieri sees Selmon's unimpeachable "morals, character, integrity, ethics" as key not only in rebuilding the department's image but in continuing to build the entire program.
"College athletics is so much a people business, and Lee Roy's a great person," Cardieri said. "Our program has gotten a reputation that we are very strong in all our sports on a national basis. You're going to see football take off and be a very solid Division I-A program, and I think Lee Roy will just help enhance the image of our athletic department as a big-time Division I program."
USF's Griffin forced to quit (March 10, 2001)
USF chronology (March 10, 2001)