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Player's lawyer on Leavitt: 'He hit him'

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.

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Respond to “Player's lawyer on Leavitt: 'He hit him'”
  1. tinshaker says: Jan 11, 2010 10:23 AM

    Leavitt denied it, the kid denied it, the family denied it.
    Someone is in ‘denial’….

  2. Bucforever says: Jan 11, 2010 1:20 PM

    Well ,the next act in this saga may come from Leavitt’s planned press conference this afternoon at 1pm. He wants his job back. Or ,I am sure he will SUE someone too. Stay tuned fans.

  3. Deb says: Jan 11, 2010 2:02 PM

    I don’t mean to be naive, but why can’t people just tell the truth in the first place? Sure would save a lot of trouble. So the kid wanted to protect his coach, but didn’t, and now he wants to be paid because he chose to lie? Leach was fired. That should settle it. Unless the coach knocked out a couple of teeth, I don’t see why any further compensation is required.

  4. Cornerdenizen says: Jan 11, 2010 3:42 PM

    Deb:
    This kid is, in many ways, very much like all of Tiger Woods’ skanks. ( kind of a crass word, but warranted, no?) In their eyes, Tiger hadnt done anything wrong… until there was money to be had.
    That’s why the kid and his parents are boarding the ol litigation train.
    On another note, Deb, you’re very much needed in the other room. The Rooney Rule discussion has become nothing more than the sports version of a “Tea Party.”

  5. skinny pigeon says: Jan 11, 2010 3:49 PM

    I live in Tampa and can tell you that every negative lawyer joke personifies Barry Cohen. Shark, snake, scum, you name it. When the family hired him, any feeling of support I had for the kid went away. Not that I gave a crap to begin with.

  6. Deb says: Jan 11, 2010 5:15 PM

    @Cornerdenizen …
    Oh no, don’t tell me that … I’m trying to discipline myself to more work and less play on the PFT/CFT playground ;-) Had a long, long debate on the Rooney Rule about a week ago. Complex issue. Maybe I’ll drop by this evening … just for a little look-see :-)

  7. Deb says: Jan 11, 2010 5:32 PM

    Okay, Cornerdenizen … I couldn’t resist popping over there and getting in one little dig at a guy who seemed about to break into a chorus of “Mammy.”
    John, I just looked up Keith Arnold’s tale of the “streaker” after hearing my six-year-old niece’s account. She was very puzzled by the strange man in “wrestling pants.” LOL

  8. Deb says: Jan 11, 2010 8:31 PM

    Well, Cornerdenizen …
    My comment to Jim Crowe was censored. Guess it was too inflammatory. Obviously Florio does not have John’s willingness to let the fur fly ;-)

  9. Cornerdenizen says: Jan 11, 2010 11:16 PM

    Deb:
    Sorry, I too, have been resigned to trying to actually work. Thus the late response. Glad you took the bait, though.
    Man, if it weren’t so sad and a tad bit scary, I would find it all sort of funny. But these people are seriously misguided and bitter. So much hate!
    I’ll take another look and catch up with you later.

  10. Deb says: Jan 12, 2010 10:38 AM

    @Cornerdenizen …
    Must admit my first comment was a bit provocative (it, um, mentioned hunting people down with dogs and asked about life at the minstrel show). Usually when I’m censored, there’s some logical reason :-) Reworked it into something I hope was more thought-provoking. The Rule itself has pros and cons, but that individual has some very antiquated ideas about race relations–which, as he said, go back centuries.
    Okay … back to work.

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