Louisiana-Lafayette has terminated head coach Michael Lotief, according to a school release on Wednesday. The release, in full, as noted by KATC in Lafayette, is below:
Following complaints of students and a staff member of the Louisiana Athletics department, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has terminated head softball coach Michael Lotief, effective immediately.
Lotief violated University and UL System policies by subjecting student-athletes and coworkers to violent, vulgar language and verbal and physical assault, creating a hostile learning and working environment.
“Behavior of this nature will not be tolerated,” University President Dr. Joseph Savoie said. “I want to commend the students for coming forward. They exemplified great courage in sharing their stories.”
A national search for a new head softball coach will begin immediately, according to director of Louisiana Athletics Dr. Bryan Maggard.
Lotief had been on administrative leave since October 6, for reasons that were publicly undefined by the Louisiana-Lafayette athletic department. According to a statement from Lotief’s attorney after the story broke in mid-October, Lotief was suspended following a “passionate conversation about gender equity”.
According to Jack McElligott, a partner in the firm of Davidson Meaux and Lotief’s Lafayette-based attorney, that conversation included Lotief raising simple issues to University personnel, ‘including getting the grass cut, making sure students have an athletic trainer at practice, making sure the assistant coaches get paid, and ensuring female athletes get a functional assessment before doing weight training.’
Members of the Ragin Cajun softball team had levied accusations of Title IX violations against the university. On Tuesday, just one day before Lotief would be fired, nearly all of the players on the ULL roster wrote a letter that was sent to Lafayette television station KATC.
In the October 31 letter, the players note that they are “protesting the Ragin’ Cajun Athletic administration specifically, AD Bryan Maggard and SWA Jessica Leger” and that the “athletic department is conducting an unjust and uncorroborated investigation of our softball head coach, Michael Lotief.”
Other allegations in the letter include that the administration lied to and intimidated players about the situatio and that Lotief was being targeted and retaliated against for ‘standing up for us as FEMALE ATHLETES’ (emphasis theirs). The letter ends with a statement of support of Lotief and includes the note ‘Let our coach, coach us! He is the reason we are at this university!’
Maggard was hired as the school’s Athletic Director in February of 2017. Leger had served as the interim athletic director prior to his hiring and is a former member of the Ragin Cajuns softball team.
Lotief had served as the head or co-head softball coach since 2003. From 2003-2012, he and wife Stefni were co-head coaches before Michael Lotief assumed the duties solo prior to the 2013 season. In 2017, he led the Ragin Cajuns to a 47-8 overall record and a berth in the Baton Rouge regional, where the Cajuns went 2-2. He led his team to the Women’s College World Series three times in his tenure, most recently in 2014.
The “Coaches” section on the Ragin Cajuns softball site not only had removed any mention of Lotief following the announcement, but also notably is without Chris and Kate Malveaux, who had been assistant coaches on Lotief’s staff. Chris Malveaux was acting out the duties of head coach during Lotief’s suspension in October.