Former USF football coach Jim Leavitt and USF reached a $2.75 million settlement Tuesday, ending the legal battle that resulted after Leavitt filed a lawsuit against the University for violating two of his pre-termination rights when he was fired in January 2010.
According to the settlement agreement, waiver and release, “Coach Leavitt and the University of South Florida and the University of South Florida Foundation agreed to settle the lawsuit brought by coach Leavitt for salary and benefits in the amount of $2,000,000, as well as a $750,000 payment acknowledging coach Leavitt’s contributions to building USF’s nationally respected football program.”
University spokesman Michael Hoad said the Athletics Department will pay the settlement using its budget and “not with state funds.” According to the agreement, payment will be made within 20 business days. The athletics budget is largely funded by student fees, but also includes money from ticket sales, allocations from the Big East, development, corporate sponsorships, event revenue and football bowl games.
“They worked all day (Tuesday) in the mediation, and at the end of the day, this is what they came to as a settlement, and as part of that settlement, both sides have agreed to not say anything more about the agreement,” Hoad said by phone Tuesday night. “So from my point of view, it’s over and this absolutely ends things.”
The agreement also states that Leavitt will not apply for any further employment with USF or USF affiliates and that if he does “USF is free to reject and disregard it.” Hoad said he can’t comment on why Leavitt can’t be rehired at USF.
The St. Petersburg Times reportedspeculation that Leavitt was being considered for an assistant position with Kansas State next season.
The investigation that led to Leavitt’s termination was prompted by a report by Fanhouse.com on Dec. 14, 2009. USF determined in its investigation that Leavitt grabbed walk-on Joel Miller and slapped him twice during halftime of the Louisville game on Nov. 21, 2009.
Three weeks after the report was filed, Leavitt continued to deny the findings, which stated that “multiple reports from credible direct eyewitnesses whose recollection was corroborated” deemed his statements invalid.
Leavitt was hired in fall 1995 to start the USF football program and accumulated a 95-57 record in 13 seasons. Current coach Skip Holtz was announced as his replacement Jan. 15, 2010.
On March 15, 2010, Leavitt filed a lawsuit against the University and the Athletics Department for a breach of his contract, which indicated that he was supposed to receive at least 10 days notice of termination and be allotted a pre-termination meeting.
Initially, Leavitt and his attorney, Wil Florin, sought some of the $9.5 million remaining on his contract.
In his statement, Leavitt said, “I’m grateful for the love and support of my family and all of the great people of Tampa Bay. I will always cherish my time at USF and what we built together.”
Leavitt and Florin could not be reached by The Oracle for comment.