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South Florida football player wants former coach to apologize

January 14, 2010 | 12:15 pm

Leavitt The player who has accused recently fired South Florida football coach Jim Leavitt of abuse says he wants the former coach to make a public apology.

Joel Miller, who claims Leavitt grabbed him by the throat and slapped him in the face, said through his lawyer today that he might file a lawsuit against Leavitt if he doesn't "man up" and apologize for his actions.

"We're ready to fight," Barry Cohen, Miller's attorney, told the Associated Press. "We don't want a fight. We don't want a lawsuit. We don't want to pursue any criminal cases. We just want you to say, 'I made a mistake.'"

Miller, who spoke publicly about the alleged incident for the first time today, said he feared his football career would be in jeopardy if he reported the attack.

"Everyone knows the truth inside the locker room," said Miller, who told reporters he's known Leavitt since he was 12 years old. "All I want is for the truth to come out, and I want Coach Leavitt to just admit that he did grab me and did hit me twice."

Leavitt, the only coach in the 13-year history of South Florida's football program, was fired last week. He has denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyers say his firing was unwarranted. The university would owe him $7 million if it is determined he was fired without just cause.

-- Austin Knoblauch

Photo: Jim Leavitt. Credit: Cliff McBride / Associated Press