USF Head Coach Jim Leavitt was fired on Friday Jan. 8th after a 3 week investigation by USF officials that found he grabbed a playerâ€™s throat and slapped him during the half time of the USF vs. Louisville game. Leavitt denies the charges and â€śis very disappointedâ€ť at the administrationâ€™s decision. Read more below.
As a longtime USF fan myself, I have always enjoyed Coach Leavittâ€™s intensity on and off the field. He was always to be found running around the sidelines, ferociously arguing calls, or firing up his players on and off the field. It appears that this intensity may have finally got the best of him.
The events leading up to his firing began back on November 21, 2009 when USF hosted Louisville at Raymond James Stadium. Sophomore Joel Miller was playing during the first half and was penalized for an illegal block. Millerâ€™s father would later be quoted by the press saying that Leavitt grabbed his son and struck him twice in the face during that gameâ€™s halftime. Leavitt vehemently denied this story and a little while later, Millerâ€™s father retracted that statement and said that Leavitt only grabbed his son by the shoulder pads.
Nonetheless, USF began an investigation into the events that transpired during the halftime. After three weeks, they said they could find no witnesses that corroborated Leavittâ€™s story. On Friday Judy Genshaft, USFâ€™s president, released a statement to the press saying that Leavitt was released due to â€śserious violations of [USFâ€™s] conduct policy.â€ť
Now there is another (much more skeptical) side to this story. Diehard Leavitt fans are saying that USF has been looking for a reason to fire Leavitt without pay, and this seemed the perfect opportunity. Leavitt has been accused of reaching a plateau in the last couple of years, and some say heâ€™s taken the program as far as he could. Given this, USF would be in a tough position as he still had five years left on a 7-year $12.6 million dollar contract. If they were looking to get rid of Leavitt, they would need to find some other cause than poor performance. Therefore, according to the premise, they exaggerated the events in the locker room to give themselves just cause for firing Leavitt. Again, as of now this is only a theory spouted by a few of the more cynical USF fans out there.
Personally, Iâ€™m not sure that USF would do this to a coach that has grown this program from nothing, and a man that has been such a fan favorite. But itâ€™s always important to look at both sides of the story.
To close, Iâ€™ll echo Genshaftâ€™s sentiments: Thank you Jim Leavitt for your years of hard work, itâ€™s a shame it had to end this way.