The University of Kentucky Cheer community is fighting back on the controversy surrounding the program.
On Thursday, Kentucky cheerleading alumni sent out a joint statement in support of former head coach Jomo Thompson, assistant coaches Ben Head, Spencer Clan, and Kelsey LaCroix, and longtime advisor T. Lynn Williamson.
It was earlier this week when the school fired the coaching staff for failure to provide reasonable oversight during off-campus events, where hazing, alcohol use, and public nudity were alleged to have taken place.
“To say the UK cheerleading advisor and coaches lack integrity is insulting,” the alumni statement says.
“To suggest that the advisor and coaches didn’t provide proper oversight is absurd. To so harshly penalize a program — especially one that has led such an exemplary existence for four-plus decades — is unfair!”
“Although what is alleged to have happened with the current squads is regrettable, we support them too, because we believe no person should be defined by their mistakes.”
The below statement was signed by over 500 cheer alumni.
UK Provost David W. Blackwell said the review found:
- Coaches knew or reasonably should have known of inappropriate conduct by cheerleaders and failed to take sufficient steps to address the conduct;
- During a team retreat at Lake Cumberland, some cheerleaders performed gymnastics routines that including hurling their teammates from a dock into the water while either topless or bottomless. The routines, known as “basket tosses,” were done at the direction of other members of the squad and within the view of at least some of the coaches;
- Coaches allowed cheerleading alumni to bring boats and alcohol to the retreat, where some cheerleaders were partially naked and/or drinking while riding on boats;
- Coaches did not confiscate alcohol brought to the retreat by some squad members or intervene to stop students from consuming alcohol. Several squad members became so intoxicated they required medical treatment; and
- During a cheerleading camp in Tennessee, some cheerleaders were directed by other members of the squad to perform lewd chants and wear outfits that did not include underwear.
However, there was no evidence of sexual assault or sexual misconduct during these trips.