Former USF football coach Jim Leavitt, who was fired by USF on Friday, will meet with university officials today to — by his own words this week — fight for his players and his job.
As part of a special clause in his contract, Leavitt is legally entitled to a post-termination meeting, which will be at 9 a.m. today in the offices of Greenberg Traurig law firm in downtown Tampa, said University spokesman Michael Hoad.
After the meeting, either USF President Judy Genshaft or her designee will have five working days to make a final decision, according to Leavitt’s contract.
Leavitt, standing by attorney Thomas Roebig Jr. at a press conference Monday, vowed to fight for his job and refuted the findings of a university investigation that revealed he grabbed walk-on Joel Miller by the throat and slapped him twice in the face during halftime of a game against Louisville on Nov. 21, saying the allegations have been “misreported.”
The post-termination meeting was a request from Leavitt at the time he signed his seven-year, $12.6 million contract. He was entering the third year of his contract. Hoad said USF employees are rarely given such a meeting after they’ve been fired.
“What tends to happen when you’re recruiting (a football coach) is they have requests of things they put in the contract — either he or his attorneys,” Hoad said. “So this had to be something that they wanted to put in the contract.
Attending the meeting will be Leavitt, Roebig, Tampa attorney Richard McCrea Jr., who USF hired to handle the case, and Provost Ralph Wilcox, who was designated by Genshaft, Hoad said.
USF wanted to have the meeting Monday. However, Roebig and Leavitt fought to have it pushed back, saying it was “unfair” on such short notice until they could review all the evidence and analyze USF’s investigation report, which Roebig questioned Monday.
“Even if you take (the report) for what it is, the greater weight of that evidence supports coach Leavitt,” Roebig said. “This episode is not as it has been portrayed to be. Some of those witnesses include a Florida state trooper. It includes (strength) coach (Ron) McKeefery who was standing three feet away, and others, who said this was not as it was portrayed to be.”
Hoad said USF will listen to what Roebig questions in the report, which included 29 people interviewed and concluded that Leavitt did hit Miller — though both Leavitt and Miller denied it — and that he lied and tried to cover it up. The report says witness accounts contradict the story Leavitt told.
“The real question is will (Leavitt) have compelling evidence to change the findings of the report,” Hoad said.
USF fired Leavitt with cause, meaning he would only be paid one month’s base salary, or $66,667. He was scheduled to make $800,000 this year.
Leavitt would have been paid 75 percent of his remaining contract, or $7.1 million, had he been fired without cause. He said Monday that the situation had nothing to do with seeking a monetary settlement with USF.
“I came here for $65,000 a year. I made $95,000 a year at Kansas State. It has never been about money.” Leavitt said. “I’ve been offered jobs for a lot more money … Why did I do that? Because this is the best place for Jim Leavitt.”
Meanwhile, multiple reports surfaced Tuesday that East Carolina coach Skip Holtz has been contacted by USF as a possible replacement, and Holtz said at the national coaches’ convention in Orlando that he’s interested. USF could not confirm any discussions, and ECU’s athletics department issued a no comment when reached by The Oracle.
Holtz, who has won back-to-back Conference USA titles, signed a six-year contract in 2008 with a buyout clause of only $100,000.