Leavitt vows to fight, says he wants job back

January 12th, 2010 by

www.espn.com – The strange times at South Florida continue.

Ex-coach Jim Leavitt held a news conference with his attorneys today in which he proclaimed his innocence in the Joel Miller choking/slapping incident while vowing to fight to get his job back.

“Why shouldnt I?” he said. “I’m going to fight for it, y’all. I know what’s right. I know what’s right in my heart, and I’m not going to back down because I know what I’m saying is right.”

You can watch video of the entire press conference here.

Leavitt wouldn’t discuss the incident with Miller or his actions in the subsequent investigation except to say that the “allegations are misreported.”

“I’ve said that from day one, and I don’t care how long it takes,” he said. “I’m in this for my life.”

Leavitt’s lawyers argued that he wasn’t allowed a “pre-termination” meeting to argue his case and that his “post-termination” meeting was scheduled this afternoon with little notice, giving Leavitt inadequate time to gather evidence to support his claims. Of course, Leavitt was interviewed during the school’s investigation, and the report found that his statements weren’t corroborated by other witnesses. That report criticized Leavitt for lying and interfering with the investigation, perhaps even threatening witnesses. But Leavitt said he wouldn’t do anything differently if he had it to do over again.

Leavitt talked about how he built the team from the ground up since 1995 and how much he loved all his players. He said he nearly broke down when a player texted him over the weekend, asking how he could play for another coach.

Leavitt spoke about how South Florida was the best job for him. He did not, however, make a strong case for why he’s still the best man for the job.

We’ve seen coaches fight terminations with lawsuits, but I can’t recall too many times where the coach passionately argued to have his job back.

There is no way, though, that Leavitt regains his position. Can you imagine the circus surrounding the program if he were somehow reinstated? This is more about trying to restore his reputation and recoup some of the lost salary from his contract.

This obviously is not what the Bulls need right now with signing day less than a month away. It would be best for all parties involved if South Florida can hire a new coach quickly and start to move forward.

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