Turning Softball’s Page – From The Bird’s Nest
From The Bird's Nest is an editorial by Jay Walker, host of "Bird's Eye View".
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns have a new softball coach.
I don't know Gerry Glasco. Never met him. Don't know much about him other than his resume.
I wasn't at his introduction yesterday. I can't go to the meet and greet tonight.
But, after reading the final report by the University concerning the findings of an investigation of former coach Michael Lotief, I'm so happy we have a replacement. And, for me at least, the only thing Glasco needs to do is learn from Lotief's mistakes.
The University found there was a "preponderance of evidence" substantiating claims made by a female co-worker and former student-athletes. By definition, the preponderance of evidence means it was more likely than not the incidents occurred. More details and information were in that document (obtained through the Freedom of Information Act) than in previous reports.
The report details an alleged confrontation between Lotief and the Director of Strength and Conditioning for Olympic Sports, Candice Walls. The university stands by the claims that there was verbal abuse and unwanted physical contact.
Now, understand: This charge alone was enough to fire Lotief, even without student-athlete complaints. Some have said it's ironic that Lotief, a loud proponent of gender equity and women's rights, would belittle a female and call her a token hire. Irony probably isn't the right word. If you believe the report, hypocrisy probably comes closer to the truth.
The report also concluded the student-athlete who wrote the initial complaint, that has since been verified by several teammates, was so distraught after being verbally abused by Lotief that she tried to harm herself. The report did not use the word suicide, but a source close to the student contacted me under the condition of anonymity to provide additional details. They said the young woman sliced the underside of her forearm near the wrist, with a razor blade and that the wound required 30 stitches.
And, Lotief couldn't say those abusive comments following a game were simply in the heat of the moment. When the victim came in the next day, witnesses said Lotief berated her again, saying she should use a rope to hang herself and to do a better job next time trying to kill herself. As the father of four daughters, I found this to be abhorrent. What kind of man berates a young woman to the point where she is so beaten down she does something like that to herself? This wasn't just about name calling and bad language.
The report also made mention of the previously reported comment Lotief, according to witnesses, made with a reference to rape and the late Mickey Shunick. The quote in the report was even worse than the one initially reported. The explicitness of the comment is irrelevant. Rape is a heinous crime. And there is no justification for using rape as an analogy. NOTHING compares to it. Nothing. This may have sickened me more than anything else. Lotief is alleged to have used the term rape on more than one occasion. May he never have to find out what that term really means.
Oh, there was more in the report, like Lotief trying to interfere with the investigation, current players (supposedly on Lotief's behest) trying to get witnesses to change their stories, including a directive to "burn Jessica" (Leger, deputy AD).
And, despite Lotief's assertion that all of this was retaliatory for his making gender equity claims, he didn't submit any factual information in support of his claims and did not submit any written allegations or evidence of retaliation.
There's even more in the report, which Lotief has publicly disputed. But I'll just stop and let all that sink in. I have no idea what kind of head coach Gerry Glasco will be. But I do know this:
If Gerry Glasco tears up the above blueprint for "success" the program will have taken a giant step forward.
Even if he never wins a game.