Coach Mike Lotief has filed a lawsuit against the University of Louisiana and other leaders at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) Athletic Department for Title IX retaliation, defamation, discrimination, as well as other accusations.
A 99-page petition for damages was filed today in East Baton Rouge Louisiana. Lotief’s attorney Jack McElligott said it took ten months to file the lawsuit because they wanted to get all the information possible. “We worked to detail the facts in the most complete way that we could. We’re confident in our due diligence that we have,” he said.
The suit seeks compensation for damages for failing to follow federal law protecting Lotief’s rights to register Title IX complaints. He also accuses the defendants of not honoring his contract, defaming his personal reputation, ADA discrimination and failure to abide by his contract, among others.
It lists the defendants as the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors, Dr. Joseph Savoie the President of ULL, Dr. Jessica Clark Leeger, the ULL Deputy Athletic Director, and Dr. Bryon Maggard, ULL Athletic Director.
In response to the suit, the University of Louisiana Lafayette issued a statement defending the school’s firing of Coach Lotief:
Michael Lotief’s termination was not related to gender equity claims or his disability. He was fired for:
- a documented physical and verbal attack of a female coworker, and
- use of sexually violent language toward and physical abuse of female student-athletes.
As multiple victims came forward with complaints, a thorough investigation was conducted which revealed that Lotief subjected student-athletes and coworkers to a mentally and physically hostile environment. His reprehensible actions violated the University’s Prohibited Sexual Conduct and Violence Free Workplace policies.
Lotief’s complaint describes how leaders in the ULL Athletic Department were present at the team welcome back dinner in August 2017 and approved a bonus of $21,000 paid to Lotief on September 29, 2017.
In October, Coach Lotief complained to members of the ULL’s Athletic Department about unlawful discrimination against female athletes including:
- The University’s refusal to provide equal medical treatment as the softball team did not have physicians specialized to their sport as the men
- Refusal to maintain equitable playing facilities (Lotief was expected to tend to softball fields himself)
- Refusal to hire and retain a trainer for women’s softball since May 2017
- Refusal to hire and retain a physical trainer like men’s sports teams
- Refusal to provide annual physical assessments like men’s sports teams
- Refusal to allow equal access to the weight room and nutritional supplements to female student-athletes
The court document states that shortly afterwards, on October 6, 2017, Lotief was placed on Administrative Leave and locked out of his office.
The suit comes ten months after he was fired by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for allegedly subjecting student athletes to “violent, vulgar language and verbal and physical assault, creating a hostile learning and working environment.”
The petition describes one confrontation he had with an Deputy Athletic Director Nico Yantko:
“As Lotief spoke to Yantko about the severely disparate treatment of female athletics as compared to men’s athletics, Yantko became increasingly defensive and attempted to intimidate Lotief into submission by hitting Lotief in his ches with the back of his hand and moving in closer and closer towards Lotief as the conversation continued”
The suit is filed within a week of former ULL Softball players hiring a civil rights attorney to help them with their Title IX complaints against the University. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights stated that the department currently has “no open investigations at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette under Title IX.”