UL Softball Coach Mike Lotief has been on leave for two weeks because he raised issues about basic services for his players, his lawyer says.
Jack McElligott, Lotief's attorney, provided the following statement to KATC:
“Approximately two weeks ago, Coach Lotief was informed that he was placed on administrative leave. We would like the softball fan base, Ragin Cajun supporters, and the good people of Lafayette to understand that this action arises out of a passionate conversation about gender equity, between Coach Lotief and other University personnel. In this conversation, Coach Lotief raised simple issues like 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. The Lotiefs have spent their university careers fighting for better opportunities for female athletes and to make sure they are afforded equitable
opportunities. While no formal complaints have been made against Coach Lotief, we hope that this brings greater awareness to the issues of gender equity, and ask the community for their continued support and prayers for UL’s softball players in this difficult time?.”
We reached out to the university, asking for Lotief's status and the status of the softball program.
UL responded with the following statement:
"Since Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, Michael Lotief has been on a leave of absence from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In Lotief’s absence as head coach of the softball team, Assistant Coach Chris Malveaux is coordinating the program," the statement reads.
The university does not discuss details of personnel matters, a spokesman said.
We also requested a formal statement of the university's position on Title IX, the federal law that requires educational facilities, such as universities, to refrain from gender-based discrimination against students. It's most notably used by plaintiffs in lawsuits to force universities to provide equitable sports opportunities to female students. The university responded with the following:
"As its Title IX policy states, the University is committed to creating and maintaining a campus environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette complies with the mandate of Title IX and is committed to maintaining an environment of equal opportunity for both genders in all areas of university life."
The UL website provides the following background on Lotief:
In 14 seasons as either head coach or co-head coach of the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns softball program and 16 seasons overall, Lotief has advanced to the NCAA tournament in every single one.
Originally a volunteer coach from 2001-02, then a co-head coach with his wife Stefni from 2003-12, he took over the reigns as the sole head coach prior to the 2013 season.
He is a 2016 ASA/USA Louisiana Softball Hall of Fame inductee and was chosen by his peers in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) to receive the 2016 Donna Newberry “Perseverance” Award.
In 2014, Lotief guided the Ragin’ Cajuns to their sixth Women’s College World Series defeating national powers Texas and Arizona to reach Oklahoma City. Last season, he steered the program to a third consecutive national seed in the NCAA Tournament and regional host site at Lamson Park, its fifth straight NCAA Super Regional appearance and a fifth straight Top 15 finish in the final polls.
The current stretch of five straight seasons finishing in the Top 15 is the second-longest period in program history trailing only eight straight seasons from 1990-97.
Lotief has led his teams to over 40 wins in every season, eight seasons with 50-or-more victories, and a school-record 60 wins in 2004.
Under his guidance as head coach, the Cajuns have advanced to three Women’s College World Series (2003, 2008 & 2014), seven NCAA Super Regionals and 14 NCAA regionals. Louisiana has captured the Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship 12 times in his 14-year tenure.
From 2002-2006, Lotief’s hitting system produced at least 70 home runs. In 2006, his hitting system wielded the first 100-home run season in school history (102). Three of his hitters - Danyele Gomez, Ashley Evans and Lacey Bertucci - ranked in the Top 10 of all NCAA Division I hitters.
The 2015 squad raised the bar offensively, setting school records with 116 home runs and a .652 slugging percentage. The Ragin’ Cajuns generated 108 home runs during the 2016 season, reaching the century mark in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history.
Lexie Elkins led all levels of collegiate softball with a school-record 32 home runs in 2015. In Lotief’s system, Elkins hit 75 home runs in three seasons (2014-16) after none as a freshman at Texas Tech in 2013. She was chosen as the No. 1 overall pick by the Pennsylvania Rebellion in the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) College Senior Draft.
Through his 14 seasons as head coach, the Cajuns have hit 1,127 home runs and drove in 4,915 runs with a .307 batting average.
Prior to coaching at the Division I level, he coached the Louisiana Reflections, a summer program he was instrumental in developing. The Reflections won five consecutive state championships and made five national tournament appearances, winning the AFA 18-U National Championship in 2000. Over 20 high school players that he coached received Division I scholarships.
A 1981 graduate of Teurlings Catholic High School in Lafayette, Lotief received his bachelor’s degree from Louisiana in 1985 and went on to earn his Juris Doctorate from LSU in 1988. He began his own law practice in 1992 and started coaching softball in 1994.
He is married to former Ragin’ Cajuns co-head coach and All-American Stefni (Whitton) Lotief. The couple has two children, Chelsea and Andrew. Chelsea is currently a redshirt freshman on the Ragin’ Cajuns roster.