UK Fires Cheerleading Coaches Following Hazing Investigation
The University of Kentucky fired the school’s head cheerleading coach and three assistant coaches on May 18 following a three month investigation into alcohol, public nudity, and hazing activities.
Head Coach Jomo Thompson along with assistants Ben Head, Spencer Clan, and Kelsey LaCroix were dismissed for failing to provide reasonable oversight during off campus events. Longtime cheerleading program advisor T. Lynn Williamson, who retired earlier this year, was also cited for lax oversight and poor judgement.
UK Provost David Blackwell says that point can’t be refuted.
“While much is still unclear, given the conflicting accounts of dozens of participants interviewed, one thing is crystal clear. The blue and white squads have been operating under lax oversight for many years. That can no longer happen and it won’t,” Blackwell said.
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto apologized to parents of cheerleaders. He said, quote, “we want students to come here and learn and it’s a shame this turned into what I would consider to be very hard lessons.” The UK president was asked what he would say to parents of the students.
“I’d first like to say that we’re sorry that we didn’t meet the high standards that you expect of us. And second of all I want to say it’s a new day. You will not hear of any behavior such as this going forward,” said Capilouto.
No cheerleaders were dismissed from the program. UK Vice President Eric Monday said there was no financial compensation as part of the firings.
Among the activities cited were performing routines at a lake dock where partially clothed participants were hurled into the water and partially naked cheerleaders were allowed to drink, sometimes to excess, while riding on boats. The investigation suggests this type of conduct occurred previously.
It found no evidence of sexual assault or sexual misconduct.
UK Athletics, which is beginning a national search for a new coach, is now in control of the program. The UK cheerleading program has won 24 national championships.