Fired Leavitt files suit, seeks millions

Updated: March 15, 2010, 2:14 PM ET
By Brian Bennett | ESPN.com

Fired South Florida football coach Jim Leavitt filed suit against his former school Monday and is seeking to recoup the more than $7 million left on his contract.

Leavitt was fired Jan. 8 after a month-long investigation into allegations that he grabbed and slapped walk-on player Joel Miller at halftime of the Bulls' Nov. 21 home game against Louisville. The university found enough evidence to support that claim and fired Leavitt with cause.

According to a statement released by Leavitt's attorney, Will Florin, the lawsuit claims that the investigation was "biased, flawed and legally unsupportable" and represented a breach of the seven-year contract Leavitt signed in March 2008.

The statement also says that South Florida "materially misrepresented statements given by multiple player witnesses, two law enforcement officers and Coach Leavitt himself. That cannot be said to be 'fair.' USF failed entirely to interview several eyewitnesses favorable to Coach Leavitt. That cannot be said to be 'thorough.' "

The suit also alleges that the school has repeatedly refused to provide copies of witness statements given during the investigation. Florin's statement adds that the school is "either hiding evidence favorable to Coach Leavitt or has destroyed that evidence to avoid being confronted with it."

Leavitt has maintained his innocence throughout the process. A spokeswoman said Monday that the school stands by its decision and investigation.

South Florida hired Skip Holtz away from East Carolina to replace Leavitt. The program's first-ever spring practice period without Leavitt begins Tuesday.

Brian Bennett covers Big East football for ESPN.com.

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