South Florida's Joel Miller Wants Public Apology From Leavitt
He just wants a public apology from former USF coach Jim Leavitt, who grabbed Miller by the throat and hit him twice in the face at halftime against Louisville on Nov. 21.
Miller's attorney, Barry Cohen, says Miller wants an apology in 7-10 days before he will consider taking legal action.
In a news conference from the downtown Tampa offices of the high-profile attorney Thursday morning, Miller spoke briefly and did not take any questions.
"I'm here to tell the truth," Miller said. "He grabbed me by the neck and hit me twice.
"I just want Coach Leavitt to admit what happened."
Thursday marked the first time Miller has spoken publicly about the incident that led to the firing of Leavitt, the only coach in USF's 13-year history.
"This is not about a lawsuit or money, this is about principle," Cohen said.
Cohen said Leavitt "committed assault and battery" and called Paul Miller, Joel's father, "15-20 times" trying to get him to call the media and change his story.
Since a Dec. 14 report by FanHouse uncovered that Leavitt grabbed Miller by the throat and hit him twice at halftime against Louisville, Leavitt has continually denied he hit Miller. Leavitt also hired attorneys to try and get his job back and "clear his name," so apologizing and admitting he hit Miller would likely cripple any chance Leavitt has of getting a settlement from the school.
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.
After FanHouse's initial report, the school launched an investigation into the allegations. USF's four-week investigation, which interviewed 29 individuals, including 20 football players, concluded that Leavitt not only hit Miller, as reported by FanHouse, but also lied repeatedly trying to cover it up and tampered with witnesses.
Even after the findings of the investigation and his firing, Leavitt continued to deny he hit Miller. He held a Monday news conference proclaiming his innocence and on Wednesday, Leavitt and his attorneys participated in a post-termination interview with USF Provost Ralph Wilcox.
The hearing, which is required under Leavitt's contract, lasted nearly a half-hour.
Michael Hoad, USF's Vice President of Communications, reiterated that the school stands by its decision to fire Leavitt.
Contact FanHouse reporter Brett McMurphy at firstname.lastname@example.org