After 13 seasons and fourteen years, the Jim Leavitt Era at South Florida has officially come to an end.
Leavitt was notified in a letter from athletic director Doug Woolard that he was being dismissed for cause as of noon this afternoon.
Based on the “preponderance of the evidence” gained during an investigation that’s been ongoing for over three weeks, USF announced during a press conference this afternoon that the long-time coach is now the ex-coach.
USF’s probe centered around allegations that Leavitt grabbed a player by the throat and struck him twice with his other hand. Despite strong denials from both Leavitt and the player, the investigation found several credible witnesses to the alleged incident.
In essence, the university is saying that Leavitt lied in an attempt to save his job.
“I’m very disappointed that the findings of the review indicate conduct that is unacceptable by the University, and I truly wish there had been another outcome to this situation,” Woolard said in a statement. “Jim has served the university so well for 14 years. He has built our football program from the ground up and we have achieved some amazing accomplishments during his time at USF. We appreciate everything Jim has done for USF, and thank him for his service.”
Speaking to the Tampa Tribune, Leavitt maintained his innocence.
“I’m very disappointed,” Leavitt said. “I’m in the process of digesting the reported allegations. I deny I did anything inappropriately. I’m just very disappointed. I strongly deny doing anything wrong.”
With Leavitt out of the picture, assistant Carl Franks becomes USF’s interim head coach, although it’s uncertain whether he has a realistic shot at being named the permanent head coach. There are, however, several names floating the ‘Netosphere as potential replacements according to various reports.
— former Ole Miss and Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville, who is also a candidate for every high school coaching vacancy in the Southeast as well.
— Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney
— Michigan offensive coordinator Calvin Magee
— North Alabama head coach Terry Bowden
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers special teams coach Rich Bissacia
— former Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden
— current Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora
— USF offensive coordinator Mike Canales
— former Boston College head coach Jeff Jagodzinski