TAMPA -- The University of South Florida on Friday began a search for a new head football coach, after ending the term of coach Jim Leavitt.

Athletic Director Doug Woolard will begin a national search immediately.

Assistant coach Carl Franks, who has served as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator for the past six seasons at USF, has been named interim head coach and the entire USF assistant coaching staff remains employed by USF.

"I want to thank Jim Leavitt, USF's founding football coach," said President Judy Genshaft. "As a native of St. Petersburg, Jim Leavitt was enthusiastic and successful in launching USF football from start-up to national achievement. He worked hard for 14 years."

"Sadly, at the end of his time at USF, Coach Leavitt committed a serious violation of our standards of conduct regarding the treatment of students," President Genshaft said.

On Dec. 14, the university began a thorough review conducted by internal and external reviewers. The university's review was led by Sandy Lovins, USF's Associate Vice President for Human Resources, and Thomas Gonzalez, an expert in workplace issues.

Athletic Director Doug Woolard stated: "I'm very disappointed that the findings of the review indicate conduct that is unacceptable by the University,  and  I truly wish there had been another outcome to this situation.  Jim has served the university so well for 14 years.  He has built our football program from the ground up and we have achieved some amazing accomplishments during his time at USF.  We appreciate everything Jim has done for USF, and thank him for his service."

"Our mission is to provide the very best student-athlete experience possible for the young men and women in our athletics program.  That will remain our focus going forward.  I know that this will be a very difficult time for the young men in our football program.  This situation will be a very painful experience for many people - especially so for these young men."