Former USF football coach Jim Leavitt wants to keep his job, even though a university investigation concluded that he grabbed and slapped a player twice in the face during halftime of a game in November.
Leavitt was fired Friday after a month-long investigation into the incident. Investigators interviewed 29 people and found that Leavitt struck walk-on Joel Miller, though Leavitt repeatedly has denied it.
USF officials had good reasons to fire Leavitt but should not have handled it the way they did. The University failed to give Leavitt a 10-day notice prior to his termination and the opportunity to schedule a pre-termination meeting, both of which were clearly-stated provisions in his seven-year, $12.6 million contract.
The mishandled termination is partly why Leavitt and his attorney, Thomas D. Roebig Jr., announced during a press conference Monday that they would fight to see Leavitt reinstated.
Roebig said Leavitt’s firing was “wrong contractually. It was wrong legally … He should be reinstated in his position as head coach of the USF Bulls.”
The University seems to have no intention to rehire Leavitt. It has already started working with an outside firm, Neinas Sports Services, to line up potential replacements, and names of perspective coaches are already being tossed around.
It’s unrealistic for Leavitt to think he’ll get his job back, and he shouldn’t. The bulk of the evidence shows he crossed a line, struck a player and subsequently tried to cover it up.
He may not want to own up to his mistake, but Leavitt needs to accept his fate and start looking for a new job. He doesn’t deserve to be rehired, but Leavitt should receive something from USF. After all, USF violated his contract by not allowing him a pre-termination meeting.
University officials met with Leavitt and his attorneys Wednesday for a post-termination meeting — a provision in his contract. USF has five business days following the meeting to reach a final decision. It should be one that will make both parties happy and put an end to the mounting controversy.
On behalf of Leavitt, Tampa attorney William Florin said to reporters Wednesday that USF cited an emergency situation for violating the contract. However, if it had to fire Leavitt in such a hurry, why did the University spend nearly a whole month on the investigation? If it had wrapped things up faster, it would have had time to fire Leavitt in an appropriate manner.
Texas Tech University handled a similar situation in much less time. According to ESPN.com, a player’s father reported on Dec. 19 that football coach Mike Leach had mistreated the player, who was recovering from a concussion. Leach was fired on Dec. 30.
Both USF and Leavitt are partly responsible for the controversy and should work together to bring an end to this conflict.