University of Kentucky Fires Its Cheerleading Coaches
An investigation of the school’s cheerleaders uncovered hazing, alcohol abuse and inappropriate conduct at off-campus events.
An investigation into the University of Kentucky’s (UK) cheerleading squad that found hazing and inappropriate conduct at off-campus activities has led to the ouster of all four of the school’s cheerleading coaches.
Head coach Jomo Thompson and assistant coaches Ben Head, Spencer Clan and Kelsey LaCroix were dismissed on Monday. Additionally, a high-level UK attorney resigned due to the scandal, reports the Messenger-Inquirer.
Some of the conduct by the nationally-recognized squad that was uncovered by the three-month investigation included:
- Cheerleaders throwing teammates from a dock while they were topless or bottomless
- Alcohol abuse that resulted in some of the squad members needing medical treatment
- Some cheerleaders being directed to perform “lewd chants” in outfits without underwear during an initiation
The investigation also found possible conflicts of interest for two members of the coaching staff who ran gymnastics businesses employing some of UK’s cheerleaders, reports the NKYTribune.
UK Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric N. Monday said the coaching staff failed to stop a “culture of hazing, alcohol use and public nudity at off-campus activities where they were present.”
Additionally, the report said the coaches “knew or reasonably should have known about this activity and should have taken action to stop the inappropriate conduct.”
One former member of the squad, however, says what was being reported was exaggerated.
“We know that we can defend the integrity of the program and the coaches that guided us to national championships and to become better people,” Ezekiel Robertson told WDRB.
Robinson claims that while he was with the squad from 2013-2017, there was alcohol and nudity, but that activity happened behind closed doors and the coaches were not involved.
“Never in my four years as a Kentucky cheerleader have I ever been peer pressured into drinking or being nude, or doing anything I don’t want to do, or have I ever peer pressured any other cheerleader,” Robinson said.