Jim Leavitt will not be leaving South Florida for the Indiana University head coaching position.
At a 5:30 p.m. news conference Tuesday, IU Athletic Director Michael McNeely named former Louisiana State University and Vanderbilt head coach Gerry DiNardo the new Hoosier coach. The position has been open since Dec. 5, when Cam Cameron was fired after a five-year stint as head coach.
This is the second time Leavitt has been publicly named as a head coach candidate for another university. Near the end of last season, he was contacted as a potential candidate at the University of Kansas where Mark Mangino was hired.
South Florida’s stance is that they are interested in doing what it takes to keep Leavitt at USF. In fact, on Monday, Leavitt met with USF President Judy Genshaft and USF Athletics Director Lee Roy Selmon about his and the program’s future at USF.
“We want to do everything we can to continue to have Coach Leavitt as our head coach because he has done an outstanding job,” Selmon said. “He’s certainly earned the interest that people around the country are showing him right now.”
Leavitt could not be reached for comment, but his stance since the season ended is that South Florida is his home and he is excited about building a stronger football program here in the future. Leavitt spent Monday evening placing phone calls to USF recruits telling them he would not be taking the job.
The importance of stability in a coaching staff has been shown in recent days at the University of Florida as player after player has announced they would enter the draft with the loss of their head coach, Steve Spurrier.
“I’m quite sure (recruits) need to come into a school with stability,” USF junior quarterback Marquel Blackwell said. “You look at what’s going on at Florida. A lot of people are on the outs not sure what they want to do right now.
“When you have stability, you know what is going to happen in the next few years. You do not want to go anywhere where you don’t know what’s going on.”
Blackwell said players are confident that Leavitt will continue as head coach. However, the players are not blind to the fact that the success he has had in a short time at USF will encourage more universities to contact him in hopes to have him head their programs.
“He’s going to stay here no matter what. This program is up and coming,” said sophomore wide receiver Chris Iskra. “He’s from here, and I don’t think he can go anywhere else and get what he has here.”
“We’re in (Division I-A). We’ll be going into Conference USA. We had a good year last year and we’re going to have an excellent year next season,” Iskra said. “He’s got so much going here for him.”
For the time being, it seems Leavitt isn’t biting at other offers. However, this likely won’t be the last offer he gets. And the future of Leavitt as the Bulls’ coach may depend on what comes out of the meetings he’s currently involved in.
“There is no doubt that we have to compete with other colleges in getting a facility built and taking care of the coaching staff,” Blackwell said. “He wants to be here, this is his home, and I don’t think he’s going to leave anytime soon.”
- Contact Jarrett Guthrie at firstname.lastname@example.org