“It gives me great joy and peace in my heart knowing his legacy will continue to live on,” Selmon said.
Including through his nephew.
Selmon — the son of former Bucs linebacker Dewey Selmon — is five months into his job as the athletic director at Mississippi State. Spend a few minutes with him, and you can sense the grace and class his family has personified, even at the end of a long workday at the recent SEC spring meetings. It’s easy to see why he became a rising star in college sports and how one of Tampa Bay’s sports icons fits into his administrative ascent.
“If you look back at some of the early seeds,” Selmon said, “one was from my Uncle Lee Roy.”
Starting in seventh grade, Selmon would leave his Oklahoma home to spend summers in Florida with Uncle Lee Roy, the late Bucs legend who’s a Hall of Famer in college and pro football. He and his buddies would take the jet skis out on the lake behind Uncle Lee Roy’s Odessa home or hop in the car and head down I-4 to Disney World.
While he was in Tampa, Selmon saw the way his uncle was transforming USF as its athletic director. He remembers the trailers where the football team began, of course, but that was only part of it.
“I just really thought it was cool how he impacted so many young people,” Selmon said. “At the time, I probably didn’t even realize it.”
But as he got older, the thoughts began to sink in.
As a senior tight end at Wake Forest in 2006, Selmon was a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, given to the player who best exemplifies leadership and community service. After his playing career ended, he became an administrator to keep making a difference through sports, the way three sons of a sharecropper — Lee Roy, Dewey and Lucious — used football to become beloved, successful, educated adults.
“There’s endless possibilities,” Selmon said. “But underneath that, it’s always: Do it for the right reasons. Be grounded in your faith. Work hard. Love people. Just try to make as big of an impact as you possibly can with the gifts God gave you.”
Selmon has unquestionably made a big impact already in his career. While working for the Sooners, where his dad and uncles starred, he helped Oklahoma break fundraising records during a $200 million campaign. He led diversity and inclusion initiatives and served on the NCAA’s football rules committee. In January, Mississippi State was searching for an athletic director to lead a Bulldogs program still grieving the death of football coach Mike Leach. They picked Selmon.
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Uncle Lee Roy would surely be proud of that, too.
“Man,” Selmon said, “I miss him every day.”
The shadow of the family name was never far from Selmon. During his last few months at Oklahoma, the Sooners unveiled a statue of the three brothers outside Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, 11 years after Lee Roy died soon after suffering a stroke.
Selmon never felt pressure.
“The only pressure was, ‘Hey, be the best person you can possibly be,’” Selmon said. “Don’t worry about trying to live up to anything, but just do good in school. The basic stuff that may be common sense but not common practice.
“Uncle Lee Roy lived it.”
He lived it with what his nephew called “quiet humility.” Lee Roy had restaurants around town, a road named after him and was a giant in Oklahoma and the Tampa Bay area. But he never talked about fame.
Instead, he and Selmon talked about other, bigger things. When Selmon was growing up, it was about school. As he got into administration, it was about his uncle’s advice and experiences in the industry. Faith was a constant.
They’d have plenty to talk about now, as Selmon tries to elevate the Bulldogs’ brand in a heavyweight league during a time of nationwide uncertainty. And as the program Lee Roy helped start moves toward a transformational, sparking new stadium.
“He truly loved South Florida. He loved the Bulls ...” Selmon said. “Knowing that there’s still progress, I can just see Uncle Lee Roy smiling down.”
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