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Hall of Fame hire: Selmon

Former Bucs great Lee Roy Selmon is promoted to athletic director and inherits a program facing allegations of racism.

By ANTONYA ENGLISH

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 22, 2001


Former Bucs great Lee Roy Selmon is promoted to athletic director and inherits a program facing allegations of racism.

TAMPA -- The University of South Florida's search for an athletic director began on its campus two months ago and ended there Monday morning.

Saying a national search could not yield a stronger candidate, USF President Judy Genshaft chose Lee Roy Selmon to lead an athletic program that has built a strong foundation for football but has been shaken by allegations of racism in women's basketball.

Selmon, 46, has been an associate athletic director since 1993. He became co-acting athletic director in March when Paul Griffin was forced to resign.

Seven former women's basketball players and one current one are suing USF, Griffin and former coach Jerry Ann Winters. The black women allege that they were discriminated against because of their race.

Genshaft said that with Selmon, the university is poised to move forward with a man who embodies integrity.

"Mr. Selmon is a national figure in his own right, a National Football League Hall of Famer and hero throughout the Tampa Bay region," Genshaft said. "He's a hero not just for his exquisite play for the Buccaneers, but because he exemplifies the character, determination and integrity that is the best of athletic aspirations."

Surrounded by coaches and athletic department officials, Selmon was greeted with loud applause when Genshaft announced his name.

"In accepting this privilege, I accept it with great enthusiasm, great pride, but most of all, with great humility," Selmon said. "This is far greater than any young child growing up in Eufala, Okla., would have ever, ever imagined."

Selmon takes over the position at a crucial time in the athletic department's growth. Although he has been the primary force behind USF athletic fundraising, helping to spearhead the start of the football program, South Florida has struggled to raise money to build an athletic complex. Only $2-million of the necessary $12-million has been secured.

The football team begins play in Division I-A this season and will join Conference USA in 2003.

"There's a lot of things I can do to generate enthusiasm and excitement," Selmon said. "You need to have that in order to have all facets of a program be successful, including the fundraising side, the experience of the student athlete."

He also needs to heal the wounds left by the race discrimination scandal.

Selmon said he didn't "know an awful lot about" the women's basketball situation before it became public knowledge, and that he wouldn't dwell on the past.

"I'm looking forward to adding another chapter to South Florida athletics," Selmon said. "The things of the past, I don't want to spend a lot of time dealing with. No one likes bad news, but what's important is how you deal with it and look at how you can become better."

Selmon will be paid $160,000 per year. He can receive additional performance bonuses based on these goals: USF achieving a strong, competitive position in Conference USA, increasing revenues from ticket sales, enhancing academic achievement and providing an environment that promotes diversity.

Selmon's hiring came at the recommendation of Carr Sports Associates, a Gainesville sports consulting firm.

Led by Bill Carr, the consultants interviewed more than 200 people associated with the USF program earlier this month and presented a four-page report to Genshaft on Friday afternoon.

"Throughout the consultants' discussions with constituents, Mr. Selmon's name arose frequently," the report stated. "Through such qualities as his stature in national athletics circles and the Tampa Bay region and his ability to work collaboratively, Mr. Selmon is uniquely positioned to make an extraordinary contribution to the continuing elevation of USF athletics."

Genshaft said after receiving the report, she contacted Selmon to offer him the job.

"Mr. Selmon's name was one of the most frequent names I've received about being the new athletic director, but I did want an independent evaluation of our entire athletic program to occur first," Genshaft said of her decision to hire the consultants at a cost of $15,000 plus expenses.

"I can tell you that this was an independent evaluation. I feel very fortunate (to have Selmon)."

Selmon said the university will hire Carr to conduct a national search for a deputy athletics director. Assistant athletic director Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy will continue in that role temporarily.

A former University of Oklahoma and Tampa Bay Buccaneers standout, Selmon said his love of USF is evident in the eight years he has worked as its chief fundraiser and director of corporate sponsorships. Also, two of his children attend USF and his youngest son, Christopher, will be a freshman in the fall.

His oldest son, Lee Roy Jr., will be a junior nose tackle for the Bulls football team this fall.

"I think this is a great opportunity for him and this university," the younger Selmon said.

"He has always stressed to me that education came first and football came second, and I think just that fact makes him a good candidate because he cares about that aspect most."

Jonathan Alpert, the attorney for the eight women basketball players, greeted the news of Selmon's hiring with mixed reviews.

"I think it's interesting because the hiring or firing of particular people still does not address the problem," Alpert said.

"As much as we respect Lee Roy Selmon, the issue is what is USF going to allow Lee Roy Selmon to do?"

- Times staff writer Barry Klein contributed to this report.

Lee Roy Selmon

AGE: 46

BORN: Eufala, Okla.

RESIDENCE: Odessa

FAMILY: Wife, Claybra; daughter, Brandy; sons Lee Roy Jr. and Christopher

EDUCATION: B.A., special education, University of Oklahoma, 1976

HONORS: Pro Football Hall of Fame, College Football Hall of Fame, GTE Academic All-America Hall of Fame, namesake of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Hillsborough County

BUCS: He was the No. 1 choice overall and the expansion team's first draft pick in 1976. He was selected to the Pro Bowl six times, was a four-time All-Pro and was the 1979 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He retired in 1986 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.

COLLEGE: In 1975, he won the Outland and Lombardi trophies as the nation's top lineman.

WORK: He started as an officer at First Florida in 1978, progressing to a sales and service officer managing an account portfolio in excess of $10-million. In 1989, he was promoted to vice president for public relations and marketing and held that position after Barnett Bank bought First Florida. He has been an associate athletic director at USF since 1993.

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