The rain held off just long enough for Claybra Selmon to look to the sky and tell her husband that the fruit of his labor had blossomed.
Members of the Selmon family, USF student-athletes from all sports and members of the community gathered to remember the late Lee Roy Selmon on Wednesday as the Athletics Building he helped construct was officially renamed the Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center.
Claybra, along with children Brandy, Chris and Lee Roy Jr., as well as Selmon’s older brother Lucious, spoke of Selmon’s undying passion for the University of South Florida after his playing career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended.
“When presented with the opportunity to come here and build the program, he was just ecstatic,” Claybra said. “Lee Roy loved this University. He was committed to this University and nobody knows it better than I, because I sat home a lot of nights while he was participating in functions for fundraising or athletics here. He wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
Selmon, 56, passed away Sept. 4, 2011, two days after suffering a massive stroke. He was a Hall of Fame defensive end and served as USF’s Athletics Director from 2001 to 2004.
In years prior, Claybra worked in the Student Health Services department and all three of Selmon’s children graduated from USF, prompting University President Judy Genshaft to remark that, at one time, the USF acronym may have stood for “University of the Selmon Family.”
“Not a day goes by when I don’t think of Lee Roy and miss him tremendously,” Genshaft said. “He continues to be a presence here at USF, both in spirit, and now with the Athletics Center which will be
named in his honor so that every student that comes through these doors will see his name forever and ever.”
In addition to Selmon’s name on the side of the building, a memorial plaque listing his accomplishments was placed next to the front doors.
“Lee Roy Selmon was a pioneering influence in the development of the USF Athletics program,” the plaque reads. “As associate Athletics Director, he championed the establishment of Bulls football. As Athletics Director, he ushered USF Athletics into the Big East Conference. As president of the USF Foundation Partnership for Athletics, he led the effort to raise the private support needed to transform the USF Athletics landscape. An enduring example of integrity, academic excellence, compassion, competitiveness and commitment to young people, Lee Roy Selmon set the standard for every student-athlete that walks through these doors.”
Before members of the Selmon family addressed the crowd, USF linebacker Sam Barrington relayed the importance of Selmon’s role in the lives of student-athletes.
“When the opportunity arose for me to come here and speak about the naming of this facility and my encounters with Mr. Lee Roy Selmon, I thought, ‘Wow, what an honor. What words can I say and will it be enough?'” he said. “In my opinion, there aren’t enough words to say about Lee Roy Selmon.”
Athletics Director Doug Woolard said that if everyone could act a little more like Selmon, the world would be a much better place.