Records: Complaints Came In For Months Before Lotief Firing
Fired UL Lafayette Softball Coach Michael Lotief was accused of verbal and physical abuse multiple times in the months before the University fired him. The groundbreaking new details come from records obtained by KPEL News through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Names and other identifying information were redacted in the documents that were released by the Office of Communications. WARNING: The complaints do contain profanity.
READ THE FULL COMPLAINTS BELOW
The content of these complaints, which has been disputed by Lotief, shows a pattern of abusive language directed at student players. According to the accounts, this is especially true after tough losses and underperformance on the field.
In one complaint that is dated August 2, 2017, a player describes an incident after a series with Texas A&M:
There is no one there but a circle of just the starters and Coach Mike -he had instructed all "nonstarters to get out of the indoor". I am shaking as I write this. I have never seen someone so angry -he told me to leave; I was crying as he was mimicking me and making fun of my nervous nonverbal habits with hatred and disgust and forced me to stop and stand still with my arms straight down at my side. He begged others to step in and take his side. He said, "I have given you so many opportunities and chances you can hang yourself with a rope."
The complaint goes on to shed some light on Lotief's coaching style and how he manages the program.
Coach Mike will defend the culture he has built. He is good at it. He was a lawyer and has gone through many investigations and reports and knows his reasoning to a T: It's the competitive atmosphere he created, it is the way to coach, the world has become so soft, the good coaches and the good players are going to leave and not let the mediocre [expletive] takeover.
In another complaint dated September 15th, 2017, players reported Coach Lotief made reference to Mickey Shunick. A member of the team recounted an incident in which Lotief compared them to her. The complaint says he told players If they would have been in the truck, they would have let him rape them. Shunick was the UL Lafayette student who was hit by a truck while riding her bike, sexually assaulted and eventually left for dead.
Brandon Scott Lavergne, a registered sex offender was convicted in Shunick's murder.
The same complaint also describes an incident where Lotief was physical with her. The player reports that Lotief pulled her hair and shook her head several times and she cried. This player said she confronted him and told him it was inappropriate.
The concerns apparently didn't stop with the players. A complaint dated September 11th, 2017, said fans had begun expressing concerns about Coach Lotief's behavior. An incident was described during a road game where the grounds crew asked everyone to get off the grass. Lotief refused and is alleged to have cursed at the visiting grounds crew. This player goes on to say Lotief's tactics went from physical anger to emotional manipulation.
UL Lafayette announced the firing of Coach Michael Lotief in a statement released on Wednesday. He held a press conference to dispute the claims by the University. He attributes his firing to retaliation for pushing for equal treatment of women's sports by the University. When asked if he was planning to sue the University over his firing, Lotief simply said that was a crazy question. We'll continue to update this story as it develops.