Former University of Louisiana at Lafayette softball players have filed a federal civil-rights complaint that alleges gender discrimination.
The Title IX complaints, filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, comes about a year after the university fired head coach Mike Lotief over allegations of abusive behavior toward his players.
Nine of those former players have filed complaints, and a Shreveport attorney will represent them, according to a press conference streamed by The Advertiser.
They are: Aleah Craighton, Alyssa Denham, Chelsea Lotief, Doni Sanders, Miranda Grotenhuis, Sarah Koeppen, Shae Schreckengost, Kimber Cortemelia, and Teryn Haley Pritchett
The women’s attorney, Allison Jones, said the former players want to see gender discrimination addressed within the university. Jones is with the firm Downer, Jones, Marino and Wilhite,
Lotief claimed he was fired for voicing concerns about gender discrimination in the department. After his firing, nine of his players held a press conference in the support of the coach; those same players filed the complaint.
Jones also represents four women professors who have filed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints that allege sexual harassment and gender discrimination within the university.
Jones said the university administration “refuses to recognize that gender inequity occurs on its campus both for students and for professors and refuses to address that problem.”
The university issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon:
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette disputes the allegations presented today by lawyer Allison Jones. The University has been fully compliant with the law and all complaints have been promptly and effectively investigated. The University takes Title IX, gender equity, and discrimination claims seriously, but will strongly defend itself from patently false and baseless allegations.
The issues of the College of Business are wholly unrelated to the assertions raised by a few Lotief-era players. The only connection between these claims is the same Shreveport lawyer.
Michael Lotief’s termination was not related to gender equity claims. Following allegations by female students and employees, Lotief was terminated in 2017 for violating the University’s Prohibited Sexual Conduct and Violence Free Workplace policies, subjecting student-athletes and coworkers to sexually hostile situations, vulgar language and behavior, and creating a hostile learning and working environment.
The University encourages a culture of inclusion on its campus. Gender equity is a pillar of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s core values.