Genshaft: Reports of blocking UCF are 'wrong'
USF President Judy Genshaft, asked directly by a State Senator on Tuesday about media reports that she is blocking Central Florida's bid to join the Big East, said that such reports are "really, really wrong" and that she hasn't "done anything to hurt anybody," the Times' Stephanie Wang reports.
Genshaft, speaking to the Hillsborough County legislative delegation's annual meeting on USF's campus Tuesday, was asked by State Sen. Jack Latvala (R-St. Petersburg) about a column in the Orlando Sentinel last week claiming that Genshaft was actively blocking UCF from the Big East, with the writer seeking help from Gov. Rick Scott and the state legislature to help stop it.
"Those statements that are out in the press are not true. That is not the case," Genshaft said. "I am not stopping any university from coming in. What is happening is the league, or the conference, now is looking at schools and they have looked very much at schools that are not in any of the states that are represented by the Big East schools right now. The ones that they're looking at right now, they do not sit in any state that the Big East schools currently are in."
Pressed by Latvala as to whether the media reports are true -- the Newark Star-Ledger and Boston Globe reported of USF's blocking UCF, citing unnamed sources -- Genshaft replied by saying "I have not done anything to hurt anybody."
Genshaft said when a prospective school from the same state as a current conference member is being considered, schools are generally silent, and that the reports from the Sentinel have generated "nasty" responses to her office.
"When they come from our own state, we usually are silent," she said. "I have to tell you that there has been terrible misinformation out and I have written memos and comments and letters to different people about these. The press releases that have come out from a different paper have been so nasty that some of the letters have had to go directly to our police department."
Latvala said his goal as a legislator has been to seek what is best for the entire state and asked that Genshaft would do the same.
"I hear you and I appreciate it," Genshaft said. "Like I said, when the institution's in your own state, the institution usually stays quiet. It will be interesting if the SEC would open up their league for USF (or ACC) ... but that's not the way it happens. It's very interesting. There are other leagues also but that's not the way these leagues work. ... But I hear you, honestly, I hear you. I will take it under great consideration. That's all I can say at this point."
Asked by the Times after the session if supports UCF joining the Big East, Genshaft said "That isn't the question now." Asked about the state senator's questions about her blocking UCF, she said "That was just really, really wrong reports."