Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt is abruptly leaving the program. Word of Leavitt’s departure was first reported by  247Sports’ Duck Territory on Wednesday evening, and the school confirmed the news Thursday afternoon. No reason for the move was given, with the school’s release stating only that the two sides “have mutually reached an agreement to part ways.” The school also says the agreement will result in a maximum payment of $2.5 million to Leavitt, paid over multiple years, and “subject to reduction based on future employment.”

Oregon also announced it will begin a national search for Leavitt’s replacement, though Duck Territory reported Wednesday that Oregon will promote co-defensive coordinator Keith Hayward to take over Leavitt’s role.

Leavitt came to Oregon as a part of Willie Taggart’s staff prior to the 2017 season, serving as the team’s defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach following an impressive stint turning around Colorado’s defense. Leavitt became Colorado’s defensive coordinator in 2015, a year after the Buffaloes allowed 39.0 points per game. In his first season, that number shrunk to 27.5 points per game, and in 2016, when Colorado went 10-4, Leavitt’s defense allowed only 21.7 points per game. That made him an attractive target for Taggart when he was hired to replace Mark Helfrich at Oregon, and Taggart convinced Leavitt to leave Colorado.

The Oregon defense had allowed 41.4 points per game in 2016. But under the direction of Leavitt, it allowed 29.0 points per game in 2017 and 25.4 points per game in 2018.

When Leavitt joined the Colorado staff in 2015, it was his first time coaching on the college level since losing his job at South Florida in 2009. Leavitt went 95-57 in 13 seasons at South Florida but was fired in 2009 after a school investigation ruled he struck a player in the locker room during halftime of a game against Louisville. Leavitt denies the incident ever took place.

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