Leavitt a finalist for coaching job at Indiana

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana could name a new football coach this week, and the finalists include South Florida’s Jim Leavitt and former LSU and Vanderbilt coach Gerry DiNardo, a source close to the search has told The Associated Press.

Leavitt and DiNardo are among the finalists for the Hoosiers job, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The process, which has taken more than a month, appears to be reaching a conclusion.

Athletic department spokesman Jeff Fanter confirmed Sunday that the screening committee, which is to meet with the finalists, had been contacted Friday by athletic director Michael McNeely.Fanter could not say how many members of the eight-person committee McNeely reached, only that “some” had been contacted. He did not know whether the committee had actually met.”I believe we are at the stage that we talked about in terms of the progression, where the committee would be contacted at the end,” Fanter said. “I believe we’re at that point.”

The job opened when McNeely fired Cam Cameron as coach Dec. 5. Cameron had gone 18-37 in five seasons as coach with no bowl appearances and no winning seasons during his tenure.When McNeely announced the search to committee members on Dec. 21, he said the committee would not meet until the process neared its conclusion.

While Leavitt and DiNardo are among those being considered, they may not be the only ones in the pool. Still in the mix is former San Diego Chargers and Oregon State coach Mike Riley, who was fired this week by the Chargers. Riley, who was 14-34 in three seasons with San Diego, could not be reached for comment.However, ESPN.com, reported that Riley also is a leading candidate to take the post at Stanford, which lost coach Tyrone Willingham to Notre Dame this week.

Before becoming IU’s athletic director, McNeely was vice president and chief operating officer for the Chargers. Riley went 14-34 in three seasons with the Chargers.

McNeely also served as an assistant coach and as the recruiting coordinator at the University of Colorado from 1981-85. DiNardo served as Colorado’s offensive coordinator from 1982-90 before taking over at Vanderbilt. DiNardo went 19-25 in four years with the Commodores – their best four-year span in 25 years.

Then DiNardo left for LSU, which he led to three straight bowl appearances, from 1995-97. But he was fired after 10 games into the 1999 season. DiNardo was 32-24-1 in five seasons at LSU.This past season, DiNardo coached the Birmingham Bolts of the XFL. DiNardo also was a first-team All-American and played on a national championship team at Notre Dame.

Leavitt served as an assistant coach at Missouri, Kansas State and Iowa before becoming head coach at South Florida in 1995. The Bulls moved to Division I-A football this past season and finished 8-3 with victories over Pittsburgh, Houston and North Texas.

Leavitt led South Florida to a 27-17 record and three straight winning seasons at the Division I-AA level after the school started playing football in 1995.

McNeely has said he would winnow the field to “two or three finalists” before meeting with the screening committee.

He said he wanted someone with Division I-A leadership experience, who demonstrated proficiency in all facets of the game and had shown integrity for compliance with NCAA rules. He also said he wanted someone with a proven ability to win.