Coaches of Storied Cheerleading Team Fired After Hazing Scandal

Coaches of Storied Cheerleading Team Fired After Hazing Scandal

Coaches of Storied Cheerleading Team Fired After Hazing Scandal

Coaches of Storied Cheerleading Team Fired After Hazing Scandal

The University of Kentucky fired the entire coaching staff of its storied cheerleading program on Monday, saying that students on the team had engaged in hazing rituals and public nudity and used alcohol on the coaches’ watch.

The misconduct came to light during a three-month internal investigation, according to the university, which said the review was prompted by a complaint made by a student’s parent in early February.

During a team retreat at Lake Cumberland, cheerleaders were hurled from a dock into the water while topless or bottomless in a gymnastics routine known as basket tosses, according to the investigation. Several cheerleaders became intoxicated and required medical treatment during that retreat, where the coaches allowed the program’s alumni to bring alcoholic beverages, the university said.

The university, which is perhaps best known for its basketball prowess in the Southeastern Conference, has won 24 cheerleading national championships in the past 35 years.

“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 adviser,” Dr. Eli Capilouto, the university’s president, said in a statement.

The four coaches did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday night.

The review also found evidence of poor judgment and a lack of oversight by T. Lynn Williamson, who was the cheerleading program’s adviser for four decades. He retired from his principal job at the university, deputy general counsel, shortly after the investigation began.

Mr. Williamson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some students on the cheerleading squad rallied around the coaches on social media.

“I will assert that we should stand up for those we are certain are genuinely class-act, selfless individuals,” Charles Welte, a junior on the team, wrote on Twitter. “It’s discouraging to see people removed from their dedicated positions despite rehearsing admirable principles that were instilled among countless student athletes.”

During a cheerleading camp in Tennessee, some cheerleaders were instructed by their teammates to perform lewd chants and wear outfits that did not include underwear, the review found.

In a news release announcing the coaches’ dismissals, the university, which is in Lexington, Ky., said that it had found no evidence of sexual assault or sexual misconduct during the trips that were the focus of the complaint.

The university’s Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity said that it had investigated but could not corroborate an allegation that “some team members were touched in a sexual manner without their consent, that male team members compared sizes of their genitalia, and that students were forced to engage in oral sex.”

The university said that it would now assign oversight of the cheerleading program to the athletic department to bring more accountability and put more rigorous controls in place.


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