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Holtz takes S. Florida football coaching job

TAMPA, Fla. — Skip Holtz is the new football coach at South Florida, taking over a program recovering from a scandal that led to the firing of Jim Leavitt.

The 45-year-old Holtz led East Carolina to the past two Conference USA championships. He inherits a talented but inconsistent team that’s tasted the national limelight while also falling short of a goal of winning the Big East.

Holtz informed his old team of his decision during a meeting with players Thursday in Greenville, N.C. USF will introduce him as the second coach in the Bulls’ 13-year history on Friday.

“This is a really special opportunity, and I am incredibly excited. … I believe there are great things on the horizon for this program,” Holtz said in a statement released by the school.

“It’s obvious to everyone that Coach Leavitt has built a successful program from the very beginning. There is a solid foundation in place that we will build upon.”

Leavitt was dismissed last week after a school investigation concluded he grabbed a player by the throat, slapped him in the face, then lied about it.

Holtz was 38-27 in five seasons with East Carolina, including wins in the past two C-USA title games and high-profile victories against Virginia Tech and West Virginia in 2008.

Holtz was under contract through the 2013 season and had only a $100,000 buyout. He made $605,000 in base salary this year, though that figure rose to nearly $900,000 due to several incentives.

The son of former Notre Dame and South Carolina coach Lou Holtz has been an annual fixture on the list of top candidates for coaching vacancies.