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Iowa State trip smooth for Griffin


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000

TAMPA -- Athletic director Paul Griffin is expected to return today after two days of interviews at Iowa State during which athletic director search committee members found him "very impressive."

Griffin, who has been athletic director at South Florida for 15 years, is one of three candidates for the same position in Ames.

He made a strong impression during his visit, said Dr. James Melsa, an engineering professor who is heading the search committee.

"I had a chance to have breakfast with him and I was very impressed," Melsa said. "I was impressed with his background and the experiences he's had, most notably the starting of football at the University of South Florida, but with the other programs he oversees as well. He has done a number of things and I was very impressed with his thoughtful demeanor. He obviously understands what we are about."

Griffin's interview process began Wednesday afternoon with a meeting with Murray Blackwelder, vice president for external relations, whom the athletic director reports to at Iowa State.

Thursday, Griffin participated in "a whole schedule of activities," including an open forum held on campus.

"It was open so anybody could show up, but he mostly met with a lot of local press people that were there," Melsa said. "There may have been other people there, but all the questions came from the press."

After meeting with an alumni group Thursday evening, Griffin was scheduled to be back in town today.

The other candidates are David Martin, senior associate AD at Oklahoma State, and Bruce Van De Velde, senior associate AD at Oklahoma.

GOING FOR NO. 1: Nancy Mueller's plan was to do everything in the early part of the season to make sure the volleyball team was competitive when Conference USA play began.

It seems to have worked.

The team's aggressive early-season schedule has helped build confidence and led the players to establish a much-needed chemistry on the court, Mueller said.

Now the Bulls (15-4, 8-1) will travel to Houston for arguably the biggest match of the season, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, with sole possession of first place in the National Division on the line.

"This match will help put us in a position to win our division and get a good seed going into the conference tournament," said Mueller, a former assistant coach at Houston. "Every match counts, but this is important. It also helps us regionally."

The NCAA championships are divided into eight regions. USF currently is third among approximately 36 teams in the Midwestern region. Houston is second.

South Florida is 0-5 at Houston, but the Bulls enter Saturday night's match on an eight-game winning streak.

Mueller said three elements will be key to success.

"Our passing, our serving as well as our blocking," Mueller said. "The last couple of matches we've blocked well, but we're still not where we need to be."

South Florida is 10th in the nation in digs per game and 19th in team assists. Sophomore Michelle Collier is fourth nationally in kills per game and 18th in service aces. Sophomore Melanie Mueller is 13th in assists per game.

"That's just a reward that comes from it all," Mueller said. "They know it comes from the hard work of the entire team, not just their individual performances."

GOT MILK?: Twelve-year-old Dan Quintas is the winner of the second annual Junior Bulls Announcer contest.

Quintas, a finalist last season, will receive four VIP tickets to Saturday night's game against Liberty and will appear on game-day radio and television broadcasts.

- Antonya English covers South Florida athletics. She can be reached at (727) 893-8810 or at

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