The Jim Leavitt firing lawsuit is, alas, still going on. The former South Florida head coach, fired after an alleged physical confrontation with one of his players, won a victory recently in his fight against the university.
“They’re fighting hard to keep us from the evidence,” Florin said after the hour-long hearing today in downtown Tampa. “The records we’re seeking are going to back up the fact that there were other reasons behind his termination.”
For now, all that’s actually being released are non-redacted versions of investigative files, but there are also 800 other pages that the judge is still weighing whether to release. Which means this is likely to go on for a while.
It’s been coming for a while now, but today Jim Leavitt formally filed suit against the University of South Florida for what the 43 page lawsuit says was a “biased, flawed and legally unsupportable” dismissal. Since Leavitt’s job is now occupied by former ECU coach Skip Holtz, the suit seeks to go after the $9 million or so left on Leavitt’s seven year contract in addition to attorney’s fees incurred in the suit.
Though I’m no attorney, one particularly thorny element does stick out for USF. The suit alleges that the university refused to fully disclose itself in dealings with Leavitt, a troublesome accusation for the Bulls given Florida’s Sunshine Laws. Sunshine Laws demand public transparency, and if USF has not been fully clear in its divulging of documents in the case it is already behind a step in the suit.
The nearly three-month old saga that started with Jim Leavitt allegedly assaulting walk-on Joel Miller, which resulted in South Florida firing the program's only coach, has reached somewhat of a conclusion: Miller has decided not to pursue any legal action against his former coach.
“I want to end any further speculation regarding the incident with my former coach,” Miller said in a statement released by his attorneys. “I am not filing a lawsuit. I am not taking any legal action.”
“I told the truth because it was the right thing to do, not to make money. I sought counsel for guidance, just like every other party did. Time has passed, most people understand what happened, and I am moving forward to more important things in my life.”
This ends a story that was full of bizarre events with lying, changing stories, and Leavitt fighting to get his job back.
South Florida opens its spring practice under new head coach Skip Holtz later in March.
According to Dennis Dodd at CBSSports.com, a previously suppressed statement by a Florida State Highway Patrol trooper present in the South Florida locker room when Jim Leavitt allegedly struck walk-on Joel Miller states that Leavitt did not hit anyone.
A statement signed by what Florin says is Florida Highway Patrol trooper Benny Perez states that at halftime of the Nov. 21 game against Louisville, "Coach Leavitt did not grab Miller’s neck nor did he choke or strike Miller."
The story goes on to discuss other statements that may exonerate Leavitt:
Previous to Perez, the father of walk-on defensive end Cody Durakovic told the Tampa Tribune shortly after Leavitt’s firing that he did not see the coach strike Miller. Strength coach Ronnie McKeefery told school officials in the school’s report that Leavitt popped Miller’s shoulder pads twice and grabbed his jersey, but that there was no slap.
Through a spokesman, South Florida said, "We stand by our decision regarding Coach Leavitt."
We do know one thing, though, and it is significant. Leavitt will be asking for immediate reinstatement to his job, and claims his firing was a violation of his contract and his constitutional rights. I thought the same thing, especially when USF levied those taxes on his tea, falsely imprisoned him, and forced him to quarter British troops in his house against his will.
Now? A giant wrench has been thrown in the USF machine. It’s late in the coach hiring season so any “quality” candidate is gone (here’s some possibilities). The already volatile Florida recruiting game just got a lot shakier as those who committed to play for Leavitt might think twice. If an offer still stands from Miami or FSU, they may think twice.The Bulls will be losing a decent amount of talent, especially now that Jason Pierre-Paul is out.
What really concerns me though is the impact it could have on the Big East. The conference needs elite teams. And it needs them yesterday. USF was moving, slowly but surely, on an upward trajectory to possibly become one under Leavitt. Now? Who knows, but there’s going to be more questions than answers going into next season, a season that sees road games against the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators waiting for USF. From a football standpoint, USF probably took a couple steps backwards today. Not that I’m condoning what Leavitt did, just looking at the truth of the situation.
According to reports from FanHouse and ESPN, South Florida fired head coach Jim Leavitt Friday morning. The reported move comes three weeks after FanHouse published allegations by a South Florida player that Leavitt struck him in the face. The university's findings from their investigation into that incident are expected to be made public.
Leavitt has been the Bulls only coach during the program's 14-year existence. He is 94-57, and has led South Florida to five straight bowl appearances.