The Other Side of the Pancake – From the Bird’s Nest
A couple of weeks ago, when attorney John McElligott released a statement concerning former Louisiana softball coach Michael Lotief being put on administrative leave, I reminded my audience to let it play out. I remarked that coaches don't get put on administrative leave for "passionately" arguing for more for their programs.
Because, I said, no matter how flat a pancake is, there are two sides to it.
And, yesterday, we got a glimpse of the other side.
Lotief was fired for what was termed "subjecting student-athletes and coworkers to violent, vulgar language and verbal and physical assault, creating a hostile learning and working environment." The university did not elaborate.
Needless to say, softball supporters are furious. They're demanding more answers and a further explanation. And, in today's society, that's not surprising. Everyone always wants the gory details. In this case, it's probably so each individual can make his/her determination as to whether dismissal was warranted. Don't hold your breath waiting for the administration to comment further. Not happening. Besides, many of those who are demanding more info would respond "I don't believe it."
Lotief did his best to give his side of the story at a press conference yesterday afternoon.
As always, he spoke about sticking up for his girls and his program, the common theme throughout his tenure. He did little to offer insight to the charges that led to his dismissal except to deny most everything.
His immediate response to a reporters question of whether he plans to sue the University was to call it a "crazy question." Only after the reporter reiterated the question did Lotief give an answer. He left open the possibility.
He also railed against the administration and suggested those in charge and suggested again the actions were retaliatory. But the final decision was made by President Dr. E. Joseph Savoie, one of the most ardent of softball supporters. Savoie, in fact, stepped in several years ago when Lotief briefly resigned.
Not this time.
Lotief denied physical abuse. He did admit to "poking" a staff member during one of those passionate discussions. "I've never been in a physical altercation in my life," he said. He called the staff member "twice his size" and an "MMA fighter" and mentioned the strength and conditioning department.
Lotief, however, failed to mention the staff member is a female.
Lotief also admitted to using bad language "between the lines" in response to allegations of abusive language. In an article published online in the Acadiana Advocate, a former player said Lotief used the "P" word on almost a daily basis.
“There was a series of three days after the Texas A&M games where he held hour long verbally abusive attacks on me. Saying things like I am a p**** but it ain’t my fault, I come from a family of p******,” says one letter.
Another former player said Lotief used the word “on a daily basis, multiple times, throwing the word around at girl after girl.” The letter says Lotief expanded on President Donald Trump’s use of the word in the infamous Access Hollywood tape that surfaced during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Lotief had made a joking remark mocking Trump where he stated to the team, ‘Shoot I wish I could grab a girl by the p****,” the letter states.
The Advocate published the information after receiving documents as a result of a public records request. KPEL-FM received the documents late yesterday. Rob Kirkpatrick's story is here.
As I said, everyone will make his/her own judgment as to whether the above warrant his dismissal. The University believed touching a female staff member while angry and using the kind of disparaging language referenced above was enough. And, remember, this is what we know...so far.
But one thing is certain.
We're seeing the other side of the pancake. And, there's not enough syrup in the world to make it taste good.