Selmon resigns as athletic director

Lee Roy Selmon resigned as athletic director on Thursday following a six-and-half week sabbatical. He will now direct the USF Foundation Partnership for Athletics, a new program designed to serve as the departments primary fund-raiser, helping prepare USF for its entrance into the Big East in 2005.

USF President Judy Genshaft announced Selmon’s position change at Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting. While she said she was saddened that Selmon and his family decided he could no longer serve as AD, the new position will allow him to continue to serve as the “most prominent fund-raising professional for USF athletics.”

“I am delighted that he and I will work as a team and that he will continue to be my partner for athletics fund-raising and a member the USF family,” she said.

Genshaft said USF would launch a national search for a new athletic director. In the meantime, Hinks Shimberg, chairman of the USF Foundation, will oversee a committee of community business leaders and university administrators that will determine if hiring a search firm is a necessary measure.

Selmon said what excites him about his new role is the change in environment.

“I don’t need to be at this desk; I need to be in the community because there’s such a great story to tell and such great challenge and fun opportunity out there in front of us,” Selmon said. “I don’t want to fall into a comfort zone of tranquility and gradualism in thinking that we’ve got plenty of time and we’ll gradually get there. I feel there is a sense of urgency, and we want to move as quickly and expediently as we can to reach these lofty challenges and goals.”

The “sense of urgency” comes from USF’s swift jump to the Big East, Genshaft said. The Sun Dome, baseball field, tennis courts, golf course and intramural fields all need renovations in preparation for the conference jump. And now that Selmon no longer shoulders the duty of hiring and firing, formulating budgets and setting schedules for various teams, he can focus on bringing in the cash Genshaft believes will aid USF’s success in the Big East.

Selmon received $165,400 annually as AD, but the salary for his new role has not yet been established, said Michael Rierson, vice president for university advancement.

“Whatever he’s going to get, he’ll earn it,” Rierson said, adding that Selmon will probably take a few more weeks off before beginning in his new position. In the meantime, Rierson said, he and Selmon will formulate the mission of the new fund-raising program.

“We want to create a snapshot of where we want to be as an athletics program,” Rierson said.

Genshaft said Selmon and his athletic team had already been brainstorming the idea of creating a new athletics fund-raising organization before he took his leave.

“I think now is the time. There couldn’t be a better time for this position to be put in place,” Selmon said. “Even on the plane ride coming back (from meeting with Big East officials, Genshaft and I) were talking about strategies for meeting this great challenge. And so we knew then that now is the time.”

Selmon had served as AD since May 2001. Prior to that he was associate athletic director for eight years, a role in which he helped to create the USF football program and usher USF athletics into the newly formed Conference USA. Selmon has also spearheaded the construction of the new athletics facility and played a major role in moving USF into the Big East.

Genshaft said that as Selmon makes progress with his new role, he will keep the university community informed.

“As Lee Roy begins developing the infrastructure for this organization in the coming weeks and months, he will provide additional information to everyone,” she said.

Selmon recently took a position as a board member for First National Bank of Florida. That experience will help him excel in his new job, Rierson said.

“It’s great to have a banker in a fund-raising role. They understand what resources can help you build,” he said.