Jim Leavitt Fired By South Florida President

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IJanuary 8, 2010

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Head coach Jim Leavitt of the South Florida Bulls looks on against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Rutgers Stadium on November 12, 2009 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Rutgers won the game 31-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Last Saturday, USF President Judy Genshaft danced with coach Jim Leavitt after his team's 27-3 victory over Northern Illinois in Toronto, Canada. Six days later, she fired the only head coach in the history of the school's football program.

Leavitt's termination came as a result of findings from the school's internal-external investigation into an incident reported last month by AOL Fanhouse , stating that Leavitt had struck player Joel Miller at halftime of the team's 2009 game against Louisville.

Leavitt was fired by Genshaft in a meeting Friday morning that included athletic director Doug Woolard.

"Very sadly at the end of his tenure, he has committed serious violations of our university policies and codes," Genshaft said at the 12:30 PM press conference.

"Fair and thorough," is how Genshaft summarized the investigation.

USF running backs coach Carl Franks, former head coach at Duke, will act as interim head coach.

Woolard announced that the school will immediately start a national search for Leavitt's replacement.

"I'm very disappointed this ended up with findings unacceptable to the university," Woolard said as he made a very brief statement at the conference.

A total of 29 people were interviewed by the investigation headed by attorney Tom Gonzalez.

Leavitt told the St. Petersburg Times , "I'm very disappointed. I will respond in time."

Leavitt compiled a 95-47 record during his USF tenure. He was 17-18 in Big East play and 5-9 in conference play the past two seasons.

As the search begins for his replacement, names are surfacing.

ESPN's Joe Schad reported that the entire staff would be fired but university spokesman Michael Hoad contradicted that report.

Franks could be an inside candidate as well as offensive coordinator Mike Canales and defensive coordinator Joe Tresey, who coached the Cincinnati defense when it won the Big East title in 2008.

Outside prospects include former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden and University of Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney, who coached the USF defense line in 2007 and was a former head coach at Iowa State.

USF players were expressing concern on Thursday.

Sophomore safety Jerrell Young told the St. Petersburg Times :

"I've talked to a bunch of players and if Coach Leavitt leaves, there's a good chance I'm leaving and there's a lot of players, as a matter of fact, a lot of stars on the team, saying they'd leave too."

The investigation's results were detailed in a 33-page report that was presented to Genshaft and Woolard on Jan. 6.

After reviewing the results, the decision was made to terminate Leavitt.

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