USF's Joel Miller: 'I am not filing a lawsuit'
USF walk-on football player Joel Miller issued a statement through his attorney Thursday afternoon, saying that he has no intentions of bringing any civil lawsuit against former USF coach Jim Leavitt.
"I want to end any further speculation regarding the incident with my former coach," Miller said in a statement released through his attorney, Barry Cohen. "I am not filing a lawsuit. I am not taking any legal action."
Leavitt was fired by USF on Jan. 8, after the university concluded that "serious violations" of its conduct code had occurred when an investigation ruled that Leavitt grabbed Miller by the throat and slapped him twice in the face during halftime of USF's Nov. 21 game against Louisville, then lied to investigators and interfered with USF's investigation into the incident.
USF has since hired former East Carolina coach Skip Holtz, who has been active in media interviews and public appearances to generate interest in the Bulls' new direction for the 2010 season.
Cohen hasn't said anything publicly in about six weeks, since he publicly demanded an apology from Leavitt, saying the coach would face the possibility of civil litigation or even criminal charges if he did not. Leavitt's attorneys said that same day they had nothing to apologize for.
Attorneys representing Leavitt and USF met for nearly six hours in mediation on Feb. 20, but no resolution between the two parties was reached. Leavitt has not been able to land another coaching job since his firing, though he attended the NFL combine in Indianapolis last week as a guest of the St. Louis Rams.
"I am not the one seeking money over this incident or needing friendly "witnesses" in the pursuit of millions," Miller said in his statement. "I sought counsel for guidance, just like every other party did. Time has passed, most people understand what happened, and I am moving forward to more important things in my life."
Miller remains part of USF's football program, and the Bulls are scheduled to begin spring practice on March 16, with USF's spring game set for April 17 at Raymond James Stadium.
"What is important to me is to be the best student and football player I can be at the University of South Florida," Miller said. "I do not want this past situation to be any kind of distraction for our team, coaches, supporters or me. I am excited about playing for Coach Holtz and the direction he is taking us. The atmopshere on this team has never been better.
"My focus is on doing everything I can to help our football team be successful. I am doing what I love, at the school I want to play for, surrounded by great teammates and coaches. In the end, these are the things that really matter to me."
Leavitt's attorney, Wil Florin, issued the following statement in response: "From the beginning, Coach Leavitt has stated his fondness for Joel Miller and all of his players. In that regard, nothing has changed. Our issues are and always have been with the way Coach Leavitt was treated by USF."
Florin said he has requested that USF release full transcripts of the witness accounts collected in the university's investigation of the incident, but said USF has declined to do so.