Nine former players of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Softball Team have hired a civil rights attorney to help with their complaints that the school violated Title IX and retaliated against them.
They have hired attorney Allison Jones from the Shreveport, LA in hopes that the University will address the complaints filed earlier this year. Their grievances were filed in April and May of this year to the U.S. Department of Educations Office of Civil Rights but there has been no response to those complaints which were filed in spring of this year. They had not had previously hired an attorney for the matter.
Jones said her clients hope that the University of Louisiana will make changes to comply with the law. “They want this university to be in compliance with Title IX, not necessarily for them at this point, but the young women that come behind them,” said Jones. “I think they would like to tell their stories and for the administrators of the university to come meet them, to mediate to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else again.”
As of the publishing of the article, University of Louisiana Lafayette Athletic Department had not responded to questions about the matter.
The complaints filed by the nine former Ragin’ Cajun softball players were not identical. But they include:
- Softball fields were not maintained at all compared to the fields maintained for the male athletes
- Softball team was not provided athletic trainers
- Players were not given proper medical insurance and care
The complaints submitted to the Department of Education that they asked former coach Mike Lotief to raise the concerns to the University, which he did in October of 2017. By November 1, he was fired. Some players claim:
- The school retaliated against them and they were locked out of their locker rooms after appearing at a press conference in support of fired coach Mike Lotief
- They were forced to stay at practice for seven hours only to do menial tasks by the new Head Coach Gerry Glasco and not allowed to practice and play
Jones said normally the university is required to respond within 60 days of the complaint being filed but she knows of no response from the ULL to the Office of Civil Rights.
A press release stated that nine players threaten legal action if changes are not made. Jones said this would entail a federal court case, forcing the university to comply but would not be the intended outcome. “My clients would really like that to be a last resort,” she said.
Check back for updates as Softball Nation will continue to follow new developments in this story.
Full text of the statement announcing the complaints and future legal action:
During the month of September 2017, Title IX violations were, once again, brought to the attention of the administration of the University of Louisiana Lafayette.
Now, those violations are being investigated by the Office of Civil Rights due to efforts by nine former female softball players to ensure compliance with the law.
In November 2017, just weeks after Coach Michael Lotief, one the nation’s most successful softball coaches, informed Administrators of the University of Louisiana Lafayette, that ongoing Title IX violations needed to be remedied, Coach Lotief was fired (for reasons which are now being challenged as pretextual for retaliation).
Following the firing of their coach, the female softball players of University of Louisiana were locked out of their locker room and left with uncertain futures. They have decided to fight back by filing complaints with the Office of Civil Rights for Title IX violations and by threatening litigation.
Nine female, softball players — Aleah Craighton, Alyssa Denham, Chelsea Lotief, Doni Sanders, Miranda Grotenhuis, Sarah Koeppen, Shae Schreckengost, Kimber Cortemelia, and Teryn Haley Pritchett — have filed complaints with the Office of Civil Rights alleging that they were deprived of appropriate trainers, comparable playing facilities, equipment and supplies as the same were provided to their similarly situated male athletes. They further allege that their coaches were denied payment, scholarships were not properly honored, and that, despite their complaints regarding Title IX violations, no appropriate remedial action was taken.
The players have now retained counsel, Allison A. Jones, of the law firm Downer, Jones, Marino & Wilhite, to pursue their claims. Ms. Jones, a well-known civil rights advocate for women, is also representing four female professors, Lise Anne Slatten, Lucy Henke, Patricia Lanier, and Gwen Fontenot, who have filed claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging sexual harassment and blatant gender discrimination by University of Louisiana – Lafayette.
Both the softball players and the female professors have stated that they are committed to taking all steps necessary to ensure compliance with the law. Counsel for both echoed that commitment:
“The University of Louisiana Lafayette has a shameful record of condoning gender discrimination — for both students and faculty. The University has consistently failed to adopt necessary policies to prevent gender discrimination, has failed to investigate complaints of gender discrimination and, instead, has chosen to engage in a modus operandi of retaliating against any complainant.
Coach Lotief’s case is just one example, and the University’s conduct has extended to the female softball players and female professors – all of whom have only asked that policies of the University simply comply with the law.
If University students are being asked to become agents of change, then my clients are prepared to lead the charge. Each of my clients is committed to seeing gender equity at University of Louisiana Lafayette become a fact.
The University’s Administration should: (i) ask serious questions of its Human Resource department and legal counsel; (ii) find a way to resolve all these conflicts as soon as possible; and (iii) immediately begin to support gender equity in all programs. The students and faculty deserve no less.
If the current Administration cannot accomplish gender equity, then perhaps a change in the Administration is required.”