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Report: South Florida coach struck one of his players


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TAMPA, Fla. -- The University of South Florida plans to look into a report that football coach Jim Leavitt struck one of his players in the face during halftime of a game last month.

Citing the player's father, high school coach and five USF players who were not identified, AOL FanHouse reported Monday that Leavitt grabbed Joel Miller by the throat and hit him in the face twice because he was upset about a mistake on special teams on Nov. 21.

FanHouse said the incident occurred at halftime of the Bulls' game against Louisville on Nov. 21.

"The University of South Florida is aware of the story and will review the matter promptly," USF vice president communications Michael Hoad said in a statement released by the school. "We're committed to ensuring due process for everyone involved. To ensure fairness, the university doesn't comment during a review."

Leavitt did not immediately return a telephone message left by the Associated Press.

However, Leavitt, the only USF football coach in school history, told the St. Petersburg Times the accusations were false.

"I'm appalled at it. It's absolutely not true," Leavitt told the newspaper. "It's so far out there. I'm very disappointed something like this would be written."

The player's father, Paul Miller, told FanHouse: "You do something like that [on the street] you put them in jail. Somewhere [Leavitt] crossed the line."

Paul Miller backtracked on his comment when contacted by the Times.

"I stand behind the university and coach Leavitt 100 percent. I truly believe there as no malicious intent to hit anyone. He grabbed his shoulder pad, but it was like a motivational thing," the father told the newspaper. "After talking with Joel, he was satisfied there was not a slap, not at all."

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