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Leavitt’s attorney: USF violated his ‘constitutional rights’


Former USF coach Jim Leavitt and his attorneys presented their argument to USF officials Wednesday morning in a post-termination meeting, saying the University violated Leavitt’s “constitutional due process rights” when he was fired Friday.

Speaking to reporters for Leavitt, Tampa attorney William Florin said Wednesday that USF, citing an emergency situation, violated two of Leavitt’s pre-termination rights by not giving him at least 10 days notice of the firing and not allowing him a pre-termination meeting, both of which are clearly stated in his contract. He said Leavitt should be reinstated as football coach.

 “This is no different than a faculty member who’s terminated without notice and the excuse is, ‘Well, we’ve got finals week coming up and we need to get somebody in to teach the last week of classes,'” Florin said. “We ask (that) everybody understands this is unprecedented — that the manner at which this took place is unprecedented.”

Florin said Leavitt should have received a report that included a full description of why he was fired, with enough time to schedule a pre-termination meeting to contest the findings. Leavitt’s termination letter was handed to him Friday, and it only mentions scheduling a post-termination meeting.

“When you deny that, you deny his constitutional right and the last people who should be denying these constitutional rights is a public university,” Florin said.

Attending the meeting for USF were outside attorneys and Provost Ralph Wilcox, who took notes and will review his report. As part of Leavitt’s contract, Wilcox will make a final decision within five business days.

USF issued this statement Wednesday: “USF stands by its report and findings. The post-termination review was part of Mr. Leavitt’s contract. The review was conducted by Ralph Wilcox, the university’s provost. He will issue his decision within five days.”
Leavitt, speaking again for the first time since a press conference on Monday, again denied the findings of a USF investigation that revealed he grabbed walk-on Joel Miller by the throat and struck him twice in the face during halftime of a game against Louisville on Nov. 21.

The Miller family’s attorney, Barry Cohen, who said Leavitt did hit Miller, will hold a press conference Thursday at 10:45 a.m. to discuss the incident, though an assistant in his office told The Oracle they could not be more specific.
Leavitt’s attorneys said they requested to have tapes, interviews and access to the people in the investigation, but the University “flatly denied” this.
“I’ve never been through anything like this, so I don’t know what happens from day-to-day,” Leavitt said Wednesday. “I know I love this area. I love my players. I know that’s important to me. There’s not a better job in the country.”

(Background stories)

Leavitt faces final meeting with USF

Leavitt: I will battle for my job