LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- UPDATE: University officials announced the termination of Michael Lotief this afternoon.
“Following complaints of students and a staff member of the Louisiana Athletics department, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has terminated head softball coach Michael Lotief, effective immediately,” the university said in a statement.
It claims that Lotief violated university and UL system policies by subjecting student-athletes and coworkers to “violent, vulgar language and verbal and physical assault, creating a hostile learning and working environment.”
“Behavior of this nature will not be tolerated,” University President Dr. Joseph Savoie said in the statement. “I want to commend the students for coming forward. They exemplified great courage in sharing their stories.”
A national search for a new head softball coach will begin immediately, according to director of Louisiana Athletics Dr. Bryan Maggard.
ORIGINAL STORY: Signed by dozens of Ragin’ Cajun supporters, a letter sent to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s administration questions the university’s handling of its athletics department- particularity reprimanding its softball coach.
“We fully support the softball program and admire the values that (UL Softball) Coach Lotief brings to the program,” the letter said. “To leave our coach on administrative leave and the matter unresolved for nearly three weeks is a serious problem that can have many negative consequences.”
The letter was sent to UL officials on Oct. 24. The group claims they have received no response.
Supporters called the actions taken by the administration a “blackeye” to the university’s recruiting efforts.
Lotief was placed on administrative leave on Oct. 6.
“Has the athletic administration thought about what is going through the minds of our athletes while our program is in this state of uncertainty? Do our players feel that they have been abandoned or forgotten? Is the administration alienating our players? Will our softball players leave?,” the letter said.
On Oct. 18, an attorney representing several UL players issued a statement saying the university is believed to have violated Title IV.
“It is an understatement to say that Coach Lotief is very passionate about the softball program. He has a nationally recognized program and to have the issues that are before him, the team and the staff, makes our university look very bad, definitely not like a Division I contender. He is respected and honored by the coaching community across the country and by his program’s supporters, US. What other mid-major softball program is most always ranked nationally on a meager budget like ours? Our family of supporters embrace our players, their families, and our coaches and strive to give all we can to help them.
We now need support from you and our university. We the fans and supporters are hoping for a swift and amicable resolution to the issues at hand and for Coach Michael Lotief to be reinstated so that our Softball Program can continue to flourish.”