Jim Leavitt Fired

Jim Leavitt Fired:

South Florida fires head coach after probe

South Florida fired football coach Jim Leavitt on Friday after a school investigation concluded he grabbed one of his players by the throat, slapped him in the face and then lied about it.

A letter hand delivered to the coach and released along with a report on the three-week probe said the university's findings were based on "independently corroborated statements of persons found to be in the best position to observe your conduct."

"Coach Leavitt committed a serious violation of our standards of conduct regarding treatment of students," university President Judy Genshaft said, adding that a national search for a replacement will begin immediately.

Reached by telephone, the only coach in the program's 13-year history told the Associated Press he was "disappointed" and the allegation was "absolutely false."

Leavitt told investigators he has never struck a player and that he was trying to lift the spirits of a player who was "down" when he grabbed the player's shoulder pads during halftime of a game against Louisville on Nov. 21.

Leavitt, who was 95-57, just finished the second season of a seven-year, $12.6 million contract.

"I truly wish there had been another outcome to this situation," Athletic Director Doug Woolard said during a news conference.

AOL FanHouse first reported the firing. Genshaft and Woolard launched the investigation last month after a FanHouse report said Leavitt had grabbed sophomore Joel Miller and hit him in the face twice during halftime of the Louisville game. . . .

USC running back Joe McKnight said he would forgo his final season and make himself available in the next NFL draft. The junior from River Ridge, La., ran for 1,014 yards this past season. . . .

Junior wide receiver Demaryius Thomas says he is leaving Georgia Tech to enter the NFL draft. He led the Yellow Jackets with 46 receptions, led the ACC with 1,154 yards receiving and was named a third-team all-American. Also, Dave Wommack has been fired as Georgia Tech's defensive coordinator. . . .

Coach Bruce Pearl dismissed forward Tyler Smith from the Tennessee basketball team a week after Smith was arrested with three other Volunteers players on misdemeanor gun and drug charges.

Pearl had indefinitely suspended Smith, guard Cameron Tatum, center Brian Williams and point guard Melvin Goins following the Jan. 1 arrest.

The other three players will continue to serve their suspensions when No. 16 Tennessee hosts No. 1 Kansas on Sunday. . . .

Navy's women's team routed Bucknell, 70-40, at Alumni Hall in Annapolis in the Patriot League opener for both teams. Kristin Bowen led four players in double figures for the Midshipmen (8-7) with 17 points.


With the Matt Capps signing now official, the Washington Nationals have removed Victor Garate from their 40-man roster, outrighting the relief pitcher to Class AAA Syracuse.

Garate, 25, was part of the late-season trade that sent Ronnie Belliard to Los Angeles. In September he appeared in four games with the Nationals, allowing five earned runs and five hits in two innings. Prior to that, Garate had never pitched above Class AA.

Chico Harlan


U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover had another big stretch of birdies on his way to an 8-under-par 65 that gave him the lowest 36-hole score at Kapalua in five years and a three-shot lead in the SBS Championship in Hawaii. . . .

While Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s camp insists his prospective bout with Manny Pacquiao can be saved, Pacquiao's promoter says he's moving on. After six weeks of contentious negotiations failed to produce a compromise on drug testing, Pacquiao has made plans to fight welterweight Joshua Clottey in mid-March, Top Rank boss Bob Arum told the Associated Press.

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