The Lafayette Daily Advertiser has obtained Title IX complaints filed individually with the Office for Civil Rights by nine former University of Louisiana at Lafayette softball players that collectively paint a picture of a program in chaos.
The players — Aleah Craighton, Alyssa Denham, Chelsea Lotief, D.J. Sanders, Miranda Grotenhuis, Sarah Koeppen, Shae Schreckengost, Kimber Cortemelia and Teryn Pritchett — made their complaints after head coach Michael Lotief was fired on Nov. 1, 2017.
The lengthy list of grievances, as reported by the Daily Advertiser, is enough to enrage any Ragin' Cajun, past or present.
All former nine players alleged Title IX violations against the university, including denied access to medical treatment, an athletic trainer, water and/or Gatorade at practices; neglect in basic field maintenance and softball assistant coaches not being paid for months.
Five of the players alleged experiencing inappropriate physical contact, including "groping and kissing," by UL President Joseph Savoie and UL Director of Athletics Bryan Maggard.
- One player accused coaches of witnessing "unwanted lap dances" performed on herself and other teammates by another player, without any action taken to correct the behavior that went so far as to involve "body to body contact."
- One player said the university didn’t provide necessary treatment for her depression and anxiety issues, and also did not provide notetakers to help her properly address her ADHD issues. That same player also accused a former teammate of assaulting her because she wasn’t interested in having a romantic relationship. She further claims that she was discriminated against by a coach because she wasn’t a homosexual, that the coach gave preferential treatment to players based on sexual orientation, and that the coach was dating one of the players.
- One of the former players said she reported the "n" word had been used against her without any action, and another claimed Lotief himself reported a player and her parents hurling racial slurs at black players without any corrective action being taken.
- One of the nine also said she was bullied and threatened by the university's HR department, specifically saying that an athletic department administrator "manipulated the process and threatening student-athletes with her power and authority."
- One of the nine accused a coach that followed Lotief of "aggressively grabbing players by the arm and throwing them around."
- One of the players who decided to transfer claimed she was offered extra benefits to stay by a coach and university administrator.
"The university is aware of the allegations and will respond appropriately through the defined processes and the Office of Civil Rights," the university responded. "The university is confident that the process will reveal these accusations are based solely on the vindictive manipulations of a disgruntled former employee."
As to the allegations that he had any inappropriate physical contact with players, Maggard responded with a statement, "This is a ridiculous accusation. I treat every student-athlete I encounter with the utmost respect. I take this accusation very seriously and will vigorously defend myself and the university against these egregious lies."
Added Savoie, "These claims are absurd. My wife and I have been dedicated supporters and fans of this program for years. After games, we would often congratulate the team with hugs and high fives, always together. These interactions were always done in public, with many witnesses. To imply anything inappropriate happened is ludicrous."
Lotief's attorney, Jack McElligott, said that in light of Wednesday's document discovery, "it is apparent that an independent investigation of the current administration is required to address the serious allegations raised by the OCR and the EEOC complaints."