Kentucky cheerleading dismisses coaches after investigation into hazing, nudity

Sporting News

The University of Kentucky on Monday announced the firing of four cheerleading coaches after an internal three-month investigation found the team participated in hazing activities, drinking and nudity.

Coach Jomo Thompson and assistants Ben Head, Spencer Clan and Kelsey LaCroix were fired Monday as a result of the investigation. Thompson won two national cheerleading titles as a member of the team in the 1980s, and had served as the team's head coach since 2002. He led the program to 12 of its 24 national titles, including four straight from 2016 through 2019.

University lawyer T. Lynn Williamson, who served as an administrative adviser to the team, also retired as a result of the investigation

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“The University of Kentucky has built the nation’s premier collegiate cheerleading program," Kentucky president Eli Capilouto said in a statement. "But regrettably, the integrity of the program has been compromised by inappropriate behavior by some squad members on off-campus trips and by lax oversight by the program’s coaches and advisor.”

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The results of Kentucky's investigation, per the university's statement:

  • Members of the team performed “basket tosses” — a gymnastics routine that requires throwing a person in the air — while either topless or bottomless. This was sometimes done within view of coaches at a team retreat at Lake Cumberland.

  • Coaches failed to confiscate alcohol brought by students to the retreat and allowed alumni to bring boats and alcohol. Some squad members became so intoxicated they required medical treatment.

  • At a separate cheerleading camp in Tennessee, some members of the team were directed by others to perform “lewd chants and wear outfits that did not include underwear.”

  • The investigation found no evidence of sexual assault or sexual misconduct.

The investigation also found a potential conflict of interest after it discovered two coaches who ran gymnastics businesses employed members of the cheerleading squad and the team's adviser. The statement also revealed that the adviser also hired students and coaches to do work at his home.

The university's investigation began in early February and included interviews with 60 students, coaches and administrators after a family member of a cheerleader came forward and alleged inappropriate behavior by squad members.

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