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Paul Griffin: 'No thought' of returning to USF



With USF in the initial phase of its search for a new athletic director, the man who held the job -- to mostly high acclaim -- for 15 years was back in the bay area Thursday.

Paul Griffin returned for family, not a formal interview.

"I came here to enjoy the gulf, which I didn't get to enjoy that much in 15 years of living here," said Griffin, in Clearwater to help celebrate his grandon's sixth birthday. "I didn't get over here very often."

For those curious, he indicated no plans to re-visit his old digs while in the area. Griffin, considered by many as the greatest AD in USF history, said the idea of seeking his old gig hasn't crossed his mind.

"I left Georgia Tech in June, created a consulting company and that's consuming my time, and I'm not currently pursuing any opportunities," Griffin, 67, told the Tampa Bay Times in a phone interview Thursday morning.

"I guess flattered is the right word for someone to suggest (returning to USF) would be a good idea, but I've given it no thought until you called. I don't know where it may go or may not go, I wish them well."

Griffin, hired from Jacksonville University in 1986, was the AD of record when USF launched football and segued to Conference USA. On his watch, the school captured 63 conference titles (Sun Belt, Metro, C-USA).

But his tenure came to an abrupt end in March 2001, when he was forced to resign by President Judy Genshaft amid allegations of racial discrimination within the women's basketball program.

He later spent six months as AD at Arkansas State before spending more than a decade as an athletics administrator at Georgia Tech, where he briefly served as interim AD.

While any notion that Genshaft would re-consider Griffin for his old job is far-fetched, his name has been tossed out on websites and even talk radio since USF announced a week ago that Doug Woolard is retiring.

When asked if he'd consider the job if pursued, Griffin said he doesn't "deal with hypotheticals." But he was far more outspoken when asked if USF could become nationally relevant again.

"There's no doubt South Florida can and will compete. There were a lot of doubters in '86, there were a lot of doubters in the '90s," he said.

"Great university, great community, great access to talent, great television market -- all those things haven't changed. So to suggest a return to success they enjoyed in the recent past might be out of reach I think is not fair, not valid."

[Last modified: Thursday, January 23, 2014 12:40pm]


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