MADISON, Wis. — Former Wisconsin forward Alex Leavitt has sued Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves and three others over the fallout of his dismissal from the team last season.
Leavitt claims that his hockey career has been derailed by the situation, and is asking for $250,000 in damages each from four defendents, including Eaves, Wisconsin athletic director Pat Richter, senior associate athletic director Cheryl Marra and the Wisconsin athletic department.
Leavitt is also asking that Eaves retract what he calls “defamatory statements.”
Eaves threw Leavitt off the team in February last season, six days after a three-month old incident came to light, an incident for which Eaves was reprimanded. The incident took place last season at a Grand Forks hotel room following a game on Nov. 23, 2002. Leavitt was cited by Eaves for violating unspecified team rules.
Leavitt says that his girlfriend brought him dinner, and soon thereafter, Eaves asked her to leave. Leavitt says that later, Eaves came back and stormed into his room, looking for the girlfriend and not believing she was gone. Leavitt says the coach then confronted him, poked his face, grabbed him by his shirt and threw him across the room.
Leavitt says he did nothing wrong in the incident, and claims to have suffered mental injuries from the incident. He also says Eaves should have been fired, and not just reprimanded by the school, because Richter was “presented with overwhelming evidence that … Eaves frequently engages in violent, destructive and otherwise inappropriate behavior on a regular basis.”
Eaves could not be reached for comment.
Leavitt says his playing time was then reduced, and eventually he was dismissed from the team, despite telling Wisconsin officials he wanted to remain.
“I don’t care if I play another game this season. I was having difficulty playing,” said Leavitt at the time to the Capital Times. “I wasn’t comfortable playing. So playing was sometimes the last thing I wanted to do. Ice time was not a factor; it’s that I was isolated from the team and get a negative feeling from being on the team.”
The incident came to light in February following an internal investigation, at which time Eaves admitted he was wrong to confront Leavitt so soon after the game. Richter reprimanded Eaves, but took no further action. Six days later, Leavitt was dismissed from the team.
“Obviously, it’s wrong. And I admitted that in that incident,” Eaves said in February. “That was part of our meeting. It was wrong. There’s a letter of reprimand in my file, and that’s duly documented. We know that.”
The Edmonton, Alberta, native is playing this season with Swift Current of the Western Hockey League, part of Canada’s major junior system.