Louk: Genuine Selmon Unforgettable

September 05, 2011


Statements from USF President Judy Genshaft and Director of Athletics Doug Woolard



Three doors and 30 steps.

That's how far it is from my office to Lee Roy Selmon's office.

Three doors and 30 steps.

However many tributes are written and spoken about Lee Roy, there won't be enough.  I won't grow tired of hearing them. Still, I am hesitant to try to add one. It doesn't feel like my place to do it.

But there is one story I'd be honored to share.  A small one, but a defining one I think.

My last lengthy conversation with Lee Roy was just a few days ago. I was working on an article about Anthony Henry, the former USF football player who is a new member of our Hall of Fame. Lee Roy had been Associate Athletic Director and then Athletic Director during Anthony's playing days.  I asked if he would give me some quotes on his memories of Anthony's accomplishments here.

Of course, he said yes.

We set a date and time. When that time came, I'd grab a notebook and walk down the hall to his office for two reasons; so he wouldn't be inconvenienced, but also as a sign of my ongoing respect. 

Three doors and 30 steps. Not very far, to be sure. This story isn't about distance.

I knew he'd be there waiting for me in his office. Lee Roy never forgot, and he never made you wait.

The time came. I saw it but had to finish just one thing first. I don't even remember what it was, but now I was about a minute late.

Before I could grab my notebook, a soft knocking came from my door. Of course, Lee Roy Selmon had come to my office instead.

Three doors and 30 steps.

He asked if "now would be a good time?" 

As if I've ever in my life sat at my desk with something better to do than speak to a man like Lee Roy Selmon.

He sat.  We talked.  First about Anthony, and he gave me some great quotes.  Then, about those early days of USF football. We laughed. We reminisced. He spoke as if we were equals.

Lee Roy Selmon, visionary and inspirational leader.  Me, USF Athletics worker bee.  If you were listening at the door you wouldn't have had a clue.

We finished. I turned to writing as Lee Roy left and went back to his office.

Three doors and 30 steps.

Now, on Labor Day morning, I look at an empty hallway. I see the spot near his office door where we spoke for the last time, on Thursday.  I was leaving for South Bend Friday and he was going the next day. He told me to have a good flight. I said I'd see him Saturday.

Three doors and 30 steps.

I lost track of time a little bit, and Lee Roy Selmon, beloved by an uncountable number of people, decided to walk down the hallway to my office, in order to perform the favor of him that I had requested.

I may never look at that hallway again without thinking about that.

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