Monday Brett McMurphy of AOL FANHOUSE published an extensively-sourced story that alleged USF Football Coach Jim Leavitt punched Bulls player Joel Miller in the face twice after grabbing him by the throat. Miller’s father Paul told McMurphy, “You do something like that [on the street], you put them in jail. Somewhere [Leavitt] crossed the line.”
(Anybody seen the truth?)
Tuesday Paul Miller reversed course to the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES: “I stand behind the university and Coach Leavitt 100 percent. I truly believe there was no malicious intent to hit anyone. He grabbed his shoulder pad, but it was like a motivational thing.”
Joel Miller finally spoke on the record about the incident to ESPN’s Joe Schad yesterday: “He [Leavitt] never did any of those things and he never has that I’ve seen. I had some things on my mind because my Grandfather had died the day before.”
USF has confirmed it has launched an investigation into Leavitt’s conduct, which also included meeting the media with a bloody nose after the USF Nov. 21 game in which Paul Miller claimed Leavitt had abused his son.
Leavitt has refused comment on the investigation, saying, “It wouldn’t be fair to the process.”
But what about Joel Miller’s comments about Leavitt to Schad yesterday? Did USF investigators know Miller was going to make public statements about the case to ESPN?
USF Associate Athletic Director Chris Freet: “His (Miller’s) interview with Schad was not cleared or approved by USF.”
Schad was just doing his job in obtaining the interview with Joel Miller, but Miller’s statements about Leavitt’s conduct can’t help but taint “the process” - at least in the minds of the public. But with how the Millers have changed their stories, I’m not so sure anyone believes anything coming out of their mouths at this point.
McMurphy reported that there were several witnesses to the incident between Leavitt and Joel Miller, and none of those folks, unlike the Millers, have come forward and changed their stories on the record. For that reason, I think there’s going to be a lot more to this story coming out that possibly won’t be favorable to Leavitt’s cause.
It appears that if we’re going to get to the truth in this case, anonymity with be the key.
UPDATE: Joe Schad, via Josh Krulewitz at ESPN, got back to me about the details of how his interview with Joel Miller was setup: “I contacted the Miller home on my own last evening and father Paul said Joel would like to speak for himself moving forward, which Joel did. Thanks.“