USF head coach Jim Leavitt was fired by the school last week following a weeks-long investigation that concluded the now-former coach slapped a player at halftime of a November game.
Initially, the family and a former coach of the player — special teamer Joel Miller — were sources for the incident, then the family vehemently backed off the charges shortly after AOL Fanhouse went public with their story. During the course of the investigation, Miller was emphatic in adhering to his story that Leavitt had not touched him.
Now that Leavitt is gone, Miller and his family have retained the services of a high-powered attorney. And are singing a vastly different tune.
Speaking to the Tampa Tribune, attorney Barry Cohen — who represented the family of the late USF player Keeley Dorsey in a lawsuit against the school — said that, in essence, his client lied to investigators in order to protect the coach.
“He (Leavitt) hit him,” Cohen, who was hired by the Miller family over the weekend, said. “He was trying to protect this coach earlier, and he didn’t tell what actually happened. …
“The truth is that he (Leavitt) did hit him and the witnesses saw it. He (Joel Miller) didn’t want the ripple effect if the coach got fired.”
Cohen also spoke to the St. Petersburg Times, telling that paper that Leavitt is to blame for not stepping “up to the plate”, which “put the kid in a very unfair position.”
“(Miller) didn’t try to hurt the coach. He went the other way, and tried to protect him,” Cohen said. “He didn’t go crying, he stood up for his coach. He feels very badly about this, but he was innocently involved. The coach should have stepped up to the plate and said the right thing. It put the kid in a very unfair position, where a lot of people have unfairly blamed the kid for this.”
Cohen also refused to say whether or not legal action would be taken against Leavitt, the university or both.
“I’m going to go where the evidence takes me,” Cohen said. “The boy is a great kid. He’s very upset over the situation.”
Translation? Somebody’s gettin’ sued.
It should be noted that, both before his firing and after, Leavitt has vehemently denied striking Miller.