Selmon steps down

USF athletic director Lee Roy Selmon, one of Tampa’s most recognizable personalities, announced Monday that he would be taking a six-week sabbatical in order to assess a private health matter.

“I am writing to share with you a very difficult decision I have reached in recent weeks and days. I assure you it is a decision I did not arrive at lightly,” Selmon said in a news release Monday.

Although he has not resigned, Selmon said it is “highly unlikely” that he would return as athletic director after the six-week period.

It is unclear what health problems caused Selmon to step down. He was unavailable for comment Monday afternoon.

“The president has asked me to at least continue to serve as her partner for athletics and community relations,” Selmon said in the release.

During his absence, the university administration will share Selmon’s responsibilities, including fund-raising, daily operations and oversight of the basketball and football programs. An interim athletic director has not been named, and according to associate director of athletics for USF, Barbra Sparks-McGlinchy, it is unlikely that one will be.

“As far as I know, we will be sharing responsibilities,” McGlinchy said. “Day-to-day business will operate as it is now.”

Along with Selmon’s news release Monday, USF President Judy Genshaft also issued a statement. Neither letter addresses the issue of an interim athletic director, but both ensure a continually successful future.

“We will not miss a beat,” Genshaft said. “The athletic department and the university administration have been working hand-in-glove all along, and these professionals will ensure that we continue to do so.”

After a college career as a defensive lineman at the University of Oklahoma, Selmon abandoned established programs by choice and chance only to emerge a football pioneer.

Drafted as the first-ever Tampa Buccaneer in 1976, Selmon played with the young team for nine years until a back injury forced him to retire in 1986. Selmon then focused on a career in banking before coming to USF in 1994 as the Bulls’ first football hire.

Selmon played an instrumental role in soliciting and fundraising for USF’s football program, and his work paid off Sept. 6, 1997 when the Bulls hosted Kentucky Wesleyan before a sellout crowd at Tampa Stadium in their first-ever game.

After joining the Bulls, good things started happening in waves for Selmon and USF. On May 28, 1994 he was inducted into the Verizon Academic All-America Hall of Fame and then one year later on July 29, 1995 he was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Selmon is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Selmon was here to see USF football move from Division I-AA to I-A and from no conference affiliation to Conference USA and, most recently, the Big East. In May of 2001, Selmon was appointed as director of athletics, a position he has held since.

“USF athletics would not be where it is today without Lee Roy Selmon’s leadership. There is no question about it. He may change positions, but he will always be part of our team,” Genshaft said. “He is a tremendous representative for USF athletics, a great man and a dear friend.”

Now on the fringe of breaking into the Big East, McGlinchy is confident that things will go as planned despite the loss of one of USF’s most influential figures.

“(I am) quite hopeful and optimistic for Lee Roy, and we feel it won’t have an effect on (our entry into the Big East) one way or another,” McGlinchy said.