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USF's Investigation Compromised By Joel Miller's ESPN Interview?

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Coach Jim Leavitt of the University of South Florida Bulls directs play against the Kansas University Jayhawks at Raymond James Stadium on September 12, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IDecember 17, 2009

The University of South Florida made it's "official" statement on Wednesday afternoon around 4:30.

It is an "internal and external" investigation of this mess we call "Leavitt-gate."

A little more than seven hours later, one to the two focal-points of the investigation, walk-on football player Joel Miller, was recounting what he said to those investigators to Joe Schad of ESPN.

In part of the ESPN story, Miller said:

"I believe that my family's story was misrepresented," Joel Miller said. "I told this to the school when they interviewed me for a half-hour or hour on Tuesday."

When asked, this official statement was given by USF Associate Athletic Director Chris Freet:

"His (Miller's) interview with Schad was not cleared or approved by USF."

The next question would concern the investigation.

Did the internal/external investigators instruct Miller NOT to speak to anyone or any media outlets until AFTER the investigation is concluded?

Usually, that's the way it works and it's the way it needed to be in this messy situation. If there is to be any perception of integrity with this investigation.

Miller's interview has already compromised the integrity of the investigation.

The other "focal point" of the investigation, Leavitt, declined to speak about it to the large number of media members gathered at the team's practice Wednesday afternoon.

"It wouldn't be fair to the process," Leavitt said.

Which now begs the question:

"Is Miller speaking to ESPN before the conclusion of the investigation, "fair to the process?" as Leavitt put it.

In the court of public perception, USF has again shot itself in the foot and smeared its face with the mud of an investigation that has already been tainted.

Another interesting point in all of this.

Anyone familiar with Leavitt's media protocol will tell you that the USF coach views it a mortal sin for a player to give any interview to any media source without his knowledge, approval and clearance through the sports information chain of command.

His players are ALL aware of "Leavitt's Laws of Media."

It is so puzzling how Miller became available and willing to speak to ESPN.

It is standard for investigators ask for gag orders until all the facts are in hand and the results presented.

At this point, it has already gone wrong and that's not what the school signed up for nor seemly not prepared to deal with these issues either.

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