The University of Kentucky has fired four coaches of the school’s 24-time national championship-winning cheerleading team following a months-long investigation into hazing and sexual assault allegations.
Head coach, Jomo Thompson, and assistant coaches Ben Head, Spencer Clan and Kelsey LaCroix, were fired following an investigation spurred by a parent complaint filed in February. University officials say the team’s coaches allowed program alumni to supply the team with alcohol on a cheerleading retreat. Further allegations stated that team members were encouraged to get naked on a boat provided by one alumni, but the investigation found that no evidence that coaches were aware of this pressure. However, over the course of the retreat, several team members required medical attention after drinking. According to the New York Times, cheerleaders on the retreat were also encouraged to perform dangerous stunts while naked:
“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.”
In a report, the school’s Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity said that several sexual assault and harassment allegations were investigated but not corroborated, including allegations 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.” However, the investigation did find that cheerleaders were told not to wear underwear and asked to perform “lewd chants” as part of initiation at a cheer camp in Tennessee.
Over the course of the investigation, the University of Kentucky’s faculty program advisor of forty years, T. Lynn Williamson, also retired from his primary job as the university’s deputy general counsel as investigators publically admonished Williamson for allowing these dangerous and degrading activities to persist. The university is now in the process of assigning a new advisor.