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Ex-USF assistant AD gets support

An ex-secretary backs Hiram Green and says AD Paul Griffin was given a summary of the investigation into the women's basketball program in spring of 1999. Griffin says otherwise.

By ANTONYA ENGLISH

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 5, 2000


TAMPA -- A former University of South Florida women's basketball secretary says she typed the document detailing specific racial allegations against the women's program minutes before it was given to athletic director Paul Griffin in April 1999.

Lisa Walker, who was a 21-year employee of the athletic department, corroborated the claim of former assistant athletic director Hiram Green, who said in a statement Saturday that he gave Griffin a written summary of his investigation into alleged racial discrimination against players by coach Jerry Ann Winters.

"In late March or early April, I worked on typing that report for him (Green) and we worked on it, making last-minute, grammatical-type changes, right up to the time that he was to meet with Mr. Griffin," Walker said Monday night. "He rushed out with the report and about 1 1/2 hours later he came back to my office and said Mr. Griffin asked him to make revisions to the memo."

Griffin said Monday night that he did not receive a copy of Green's written summary until the summer of 1999 in response to a request from the university's Equal Opportunity Affairs office. He said the majority of what is contained in the summary was discussed with him before that time.

The document in question is a summary by Green, who led the inquiry into the discrimination allegations in March 1999. It includes statements from Walker and former assistant coaches Staci Elias and Stephanie Canada that attribute racially charged statements to Winters and former assistant Ron Gathright.

"Hiram, without question, gave him (Griffin) a detailed, written summary," said Scott F. Barnett, Green's family friend and attorney. "Hiram is certain that he gave it to Paul. He is not certain what Paul did with it from that point."

Green has declined to comment publicly on the USF situation, referring all questions to Barnett.

Barnett said from his Tampa office that after Griffin received the summary, he requested that Green "make some changes in the cover letter, which Hiram did and he E-mailed to Paul the changes in the cover letter."

Walker, who transferred out of the athletic department but remains a secretary at USF, said Green was upset about the request.

"Hiram and I had numerous discussions as the process went on because he was uncomfortable with some of the changes Paul Griffin wanted him to make," Walker said.

Asked if he ever asked Green to make changes to the memo, Griffin said emphatically, "No."

Barnett said Griffin "did not ask Hiram to say anything that was untrue."

In September 1999, Griffin submitted his written summary to Camille Blake, coordinator of the EOA office. Griffin said that was the only time Green submitted anything in writing on the subject.

Since August, eight former black women's players have filed federal racial discrimination lawsuits against Winters and the university. Griffin also is named in one suit.

"I'm not going to sit as a person and determine the veracity of Paul Griffin, but once again you see it's an institutional process that is defective," said Jonathan L. Alpert, attorney for the former players.

"The university knew in September and nothing was done and is still not being done. Whether it's defective in April or defective in September, it's defective and nothing is being done about it except to argue."

The USF controversy is the subject of a segment on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, which airs at 10 tonight on HBO.

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