Selmon’s shoes too big for USF staff

USF and its administration must deal with the fact that Lee Roy Selmon may not come back as the director of athletics.

Selmon himself said that it was “highly unlikely” that he would be returning. And even though USF president Judy Genshaft insists that she and the university are “uncompromisingly committed” to helping Selmon return to his position as athletic director, Genshaft must face the possibility of change.

If Selmon does not come back, the university must find a new leader to take them into the Big East, a task not to be taken lightly. The two choices that USF is presented with are a possible national search or hiring someone already at the university.

If USF wants to continue to grow at the rate it has been accustomed to, it cannot afford to hold on to the past. Just like the change of conference, USF must change its personnel in order to make a successful transition into the Big East.

The current inside candidates — specifically Senior Associate Director of Athletics Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy — lack the experience required to be successful in what will be one of the biggest conferences in the country.

I’m not saying that Sparks-McGlinchy does not deserve the position; she has been with the university since 1982 and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from USF. The fact of the matter, however, is that she was skipped over before in favor of Selmon and will be skipped over again if Selmon does not return.

Sparks-McGlinchy has spent her life in and around USF, giving her a somewhat limited view of college athletics and administration. She may have local sway, but USF will need someone with a wider sphere of influence to survive with the seasoned universities in the Big East.

In a statement released by Genshaft after Selmon’s announcement, the president said that Sparks-McGlinchy would oversee football and basketball. In a more recent statement, however, Genshaft discussed the leadership of athletics without ever mentioning Sparks-McGlinchy.

“Michael Rierson and Carl Carlucci are providing leadership for USF athletics,” Genshaft said. “I expect the athletics staff to handle the day-to-day operations at Michael and Carl’s direction with the same responsibility and integrity that Lee Roy would require.”

If Sparks-McGlinchy were the one for the job, why would she not be mentioned as a standout leader in Selmon’s absence?

The winds of change are blowing and they are not favoring a local search. One of the most interesting moves made since Selmon’s announcement is the appointment of Michael Rierson. As Vice President for Advancement, Rierson has been named official athletic spokesman. I believe this was a preemptive move by the university that suggests a national search is going to be USF’s plan of action. Rierson’s appointment is a foreshadowing of non-athletic administration involvement in athletics in the near future. The outside involvement in athletics means only one thing: USF is planning to launch a national search for an athletic director and wants its entire administration involved; otherwise athletics would take care of themselves.

Not only is the Vice President of Advancement speaking for the athletic department, but Genshaft has put a cap on speculation and loose lips around the university. In a statement issued Thursday, Genshaft tried to quell speculation about the status of the athletic director position, and the coaches have heeded the call; they are not saying much.

Are these the actions of a president and university trying to keep things in line, or is there something big on the horizon? I, for one, think that USF will have a new face atop the athletic chain, and that it won’t be a familiar one.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Chris Wagenheim at