An investigation found that cheerleaders would hurl teammates off a dock into water while partially clothed and "perform lewd chants" in hazing routines on a retreat

By Benjamin VanHoose
May 19, 2020 10:31 AM
Credit: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire /Getty

Four college cheerleading coaches have been fired after a three-month investigation into "inappropriate conduct."

On Monday, the University of Kentucky announced that it would dismiss its head coach Jomo Thompson plus assistant coaches Ben Head, Spencer Clan and Kelsey LaCroix after it was determined that the coaching staff "failed to provide reasonable oversight during off-campus events," according to a press release.

The school reported that there was "inappropriate conduct" at the events, including athletes on the cheerleading squad engaging in hazing rituals, alcohol use and public nudity.

According to the investigation's findings, cheerleaders "performed gymnastics routines that including hurling their teammates from a dock into the water while either topless or bottomless" during a retreat at Lake Cumberland. The so-called "basket tosses" were being done within view of some coaches.

Coaches condoned cheer alumni to "bring boats and alcohol to the retreat, where some cheerleaders were partially naked and/or drinking while riding on boats," according to the report, which noted that some student-athletes "became so intoxicated they required medical treatment."

In another instance, this time during a cheer camp in Tennessee, some cheerleaders were made to "perform lewd chants and wear outfits that did not include underwear."

Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty

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University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto said in a statement that it was a "rare instances where those who supervise and guide our students don’t meet the standards of integrity we expect of each other."

"The University of Kentucky has built the nation’s premier collegiate cheerleading program," Capilouto said. "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."

T. Lynn Williamson, cheer program advisor for 40 years, was deemed to have had "lax oversight and poor judgment" in the investigation. According to the university, Williamson retired shortly after the investigation and was directed not to have contact with the team.

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According to the university, the investigation began in February after a cheerleader's family member contacted the school alleging the inappropriate activities happening during off-campus trips. More than 60 students, coaches and staff members were interviewed on the matter.

A temporary staff member will serve as leader of the team while a national search is conducted for a new head coach.

The school noted that there was "no evidence" of sexual assault during the trips.

“The advisor and the coaches failed to stop a culture of hazing, alcohol use and public nudity at off-campus activities where they were present,” Eric N. Monday, executive vice president for finance and administration at the university, said in a statement. “Our students deserve more responsible leadership and the University of Kentucky demands it.”