Joel Miller Won’t Sue Former South Florida Coach Jim Leavitt

March 5th, 2010 by

TAMPA, Fla. — University of South Florida walk-on Joel Miller never got the public apology that his attorney demanded from former USF coach Jim Leavitt, but has still decided not to pursue any legal action against Leavitt.

In a statement released by Barry Cohen, Miller’s attorney, on Thursday, Miller said he will not file a lawsuit against Leavitt.

On Dec. 14, FanHouse reported Leavitt grabbed Miller by the throat and hit him twice at halftime against Louisville. FanHouse’s report prompted an investigation by the school that determined Leavitt had struck Miller, repeatedly lied to investigators and interfered with the four-week investigation, prompting Leavitt’s firing on Jan. 8.

Less than a week later, Cohen called a news conference, saying Miller wanted an apology in 7-10 days before considering taking legal action.

Thursday, Miller said he would not pursue any legal action against Leavitt.

“I want to end any further speculation regarding the incident with my former coach,” Miller said in a statement released by his attorneys. “I am not filing a lawsuit. I am not taking any legal action.

“I told the truth because it was the right thing to do, not to make money. I am not the one seeking money over this incident or needing friendly ‘witnesses’ in the pursuit of millions. I sought counsel for guidance, just like every other party did. Time has passed, most people understand what happened, and I am moving forward to more important things in my life.”

Meanwhile, attorneys for Leavitt and USF met for six hours in mediation last month, the St. Petersburg Times reported. A few days after Leavitt was fired, he said he hired attorneys “to get his job back” and not for financial reasons.

But because Leavitt was fired “with cause,” the university said he would only be paid one month of his base pay — or $66,667 — as opposed to being fired “without cause,” in which he would have been entitled to about 75 percent of his remaining seven-year contract, or about $7.1 million.

Leavitt, who attended the NFL combine last week as a guest of the St. Louis Rams, is still out of coaching. His Tampa residence recently was put up for sale with an asking price of $1.6 million.

Miller, a junior from Tampa who played special teams, said he just wants to move on with his life.

“What is important to me is to be the best student and football player I can at the University of South Florida,” Miller said in the statement. “I do not want this past situation to be any kind of distraction for our team, coaches, supporters or me. I am excited about playing for Coach [Skip] Holtz and the direction he is taking us.

“The atmosphere on this team has never been better. My focus is on doing everything I can to help our football team be successful. I am doing what I love, at the school I want to play for, surrounded by great teammates and coaches. In the end, these are the things that really matter to me.”

USF begins spring practice under Holtz later this month.

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