Athletic department says financial settlement will be funded from private sources

Jim Leavitt was wearing a San Francisco 49ers sweatshirt and a large smile on his face as he packed his bags Thursday morning.

The now former Ducks defensive coordinator had just reached a financial settlement with Oregon that will pay him a maximum amount of $2.5 million.

The athletic department announced the “mutually reached agreement to part ways” will be funded from private sources over multiple years and is subject to reduction based on future employment.

Leavitt told The Register-Guard his only immediate plans are to drive from Eugene to Boulder, Colo., to spend time with his wife and two daughters.

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Oregon ranked 48th in points allowed (25.4 per game) and 55th in yards allowed (385.9 per game) during a 9-4 finish in 2018.

Mario Cristobal’s first season as the head coach was capped with the Ducks’ 7-6 victory over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl.

Leavitt said he doesn’t have any hard feelings about the situation. He already has been contacted about coaching opportunities, both in college and at the professional level, but hasn’t decided what to do in 2019.

“I’ll miss the guys (players) with my whole heart,” Leavitt said. “I’ll be rooting for them. I think they have a chance to win it all.”

During Leavitt’s first season at Oregon in 2017, the defense allowed 29.0 points (81st) and 369.2 yards (46th) per game. In 2016, Brady Hoke’s unit ranked 126th out of 128 FBS teams in points allowed (41.4 per game) and yards allowed (518.4 per game).

When Cristobal was promoted to head coach following Willie Taggart’s abrupt departure for Florida State, Leavitt was coaxed into staying by a contract extension with a guaranteed annual salary of $1.7 million through Jan. 31, 2022.

But Leavitt, who posted a 95-57 record as South Florida’s head coach from 1997-2009, made no secret of his desire to be a head coach again. The 62-year-old interviewed for the vacancies at Colorado, Kansas State and Texas Tech during this cycle.

Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Keith Heyward is expected to be promoted to replace Leavitt, who will be taking his Pepsis to-go.

“I would hug every one of them if I could,” Leavitt said of the support he received from Oregon fans on social media.