USF must act swiftly to fill the void left by Selmon

After his six week-plus sabbatical came to a close, Lee Roy Selmon officially stepped down as USF’s athletic director Thursday. Selmon will remain “a member of the USF family,” as President Judy Genshaft described him at the Board of Trustees meeting. No longer burdened by the day-to-day chores and stress of athletic director, this appointment frees Selmon to lend his name and authority to what he does best: raising funds for USF athletics.

The Hall-of-Famer will direct the USF Foundation Partnership for Athletics, allowing him to focus his attention specifically on USF athletic funding instead of the broader scope his former position gave him over the entire athletic program.

Last year, Selmon helped rake in more than $4 million in gifts and donations to the athletic department. In total, Selmon has helped raise close to $9 million since his appointment to AD in 2001, according to figures from the St. Petersburg Times. With USF athletics now moving from Conference-USA to the Big East, lofty figures will be essential for the survival of the program.

While no new candidate for the position of AD has been announced, Genshaft did say that a national search would be launched to find one. In the meantime, chairman of the USF Foundation, Hinks Shimberg, will oversee a committee investigating whether or not a national search is necessary.

According to the Times, some potential replacements are Florida State’s associate AD Charlie Carr and Louisiana State’s associate AD Dan Radakovich. Promising candidates from within USF could include senior associate AD Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy and associate AD Barry Clements — both of whom have been at USF for more than 20 years apiece.

It is of paramount importance that appointing Selmon’s successor is done quickly. With USF’s entry into the Big East less than six months away, the athletic department should allow time for its new director to digest the challenges the change of conference entails. The football program is still to finalize one opponent for the 2004 season and two for 2005, and its failure to schedule a 12th match last year likely cost the Bulls a bowl berth in 2003. Additionally, the appointment of a head coach for the volleyball program following the resignation of Nancy Mueller is still outstanding.

USF may well have found the correct niche for Selmon. The Times reported an approximated 5 million dollars in gifts and donations are projected for 2004 alone. Now the focus must be to find a director to ensure the athletic department, with the help of the funds Selmon helps raise, does more than make up the numbers in its new conference.