The University of Kentucky announced the firing of its entire cheerleading staff earlier this week after an investigation reportedly revealed “inappropriate conduct by members of the cheerleading squad included hazing activities, alcohol use and public nudity.”
Head coach Jomo Thompson and assistant coaches Ben Head, Spencer Clan and Kelsey LaCroix were those announced to be let go, while adviser T. Lynn Williamson abruptly retired after learning of the investigation.
Alumni of the squad aren’t happy with the decision, judging from a lengthy statement released Thursday to Kentucky Sports Radio.
UK cheerleaders not happy with coaches’ firing
In the statement, which was reportedly signed by more than 500 alumni, the group says “what is alleged to have happened” is “regrettable,” but not enough to justify the firing of a coaching staff of a program that has won 24 national championships in the last 35 years.
The ending of the statement:
To say the UK cheerleading advisor and coaches lack integrity is insulting. To suggest that the advisor and coaches didn’t provide proper oversight is absurd. To so harshly penalize a program — especially one that has led such an exemplary existence for four-plus decades — is unfair!
T. Lynn, Jomo, Ben, Spencer and Kelsey, you were always there for us. We’re proud to return the favor. Current cheerleaders, you are part of our family and we support you without hesitation.
Notably, the statement doesn’t include an explicit demand that the coaches be reinstated, nor does it give any warning for possible repercussions.
Some current cheerleaders were also highly critical of the decision to fire the staff while talking with Kentucky Sports Radio, and there was even speculation of the university having ulterior motives in firing the coaches, like internal politics of the athletic department.
Kentucky alleged public nudity, alcohol at team retreat
The investigation by the university, reportedly prompted by a call from a family member of a cheerleader, reported several instances at cheerleading camps or retreats that was deemed unacceptable behavior.
The behavior reportedly included cheerleaders tossing each other into water while in various states of disrobe, raucous boat parties, lewd chants while wearing outfits without underwear and team members requiring medical treatment from excess alcohol. The behavior was reportedly known by the staff.
The report noted no evidence of sexual assault or sexual misconduct was found in the investigation. Conflicts of interest involving coaches and private gymnastics business were also reportedly found.
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