The University of Kentucky announced on Monday the firing of all four cheerleading coaches — Head Coach Jomo Thompson and Assistant Coaches Ben Head, Spencer Clan and Kelsey LaCroix. This move follows a three-month investigation into alleged inappropriate conduct by members of the cheerleading squad, including hazing, alcohol use and public nudity. The investigation found that the coaching staff and administrative advisor failed to provide "reasonable oversight" during off-campus events.
In addition to firing the four coaches, the University of Kentucky announced the departure of T. Lynn Williamson. He had previously served as the cheerleading program's adviser for four decades but retired days after learning of the investigation. He had also been directed to have no contact with the cheerleading squad. Following his departure and the investigation, the University of Kentucky Athletics has taken over the cheerleading program "to provide more rigorous control and accountability."
According to CNN, the investigation revealed alleged incidents in which cheerleaders were encouraged to perform stunts and chants while partially nude. There was also alleged excessive alcohol consumption that required medical treatment. The investigation said that some cheerleaders hurled teammates from a dock into the water while either topless or bottomless during a team retreat in Lake Cumberland. This hazing was allegedly done within view of some of the coaches.
The investigation found no evidence of sexual assault or sexual misconduct during the team trips to Lake Cumberland and Tennessee. There were several other instances of alleged misconduct. The annual retreat has been canceled, and the off-campus events will be "closely supervised," according to the press release.
"A commitment we make and renew every day at the University of Kentucky is that the success of our students is at the center of everything that we do," UK President Eli Capilouto said in a press release. "But for that sentiment to be more than words, we must always act in ways that honor that commitment — especially when we discover rare instances where those who supervise and guide our students don't meet the standards of integrity we expect of each other. This is one of those times.
"The University of Kentucky has built the nation's premier collegiate cheerleading program. 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." Eric N. Monday, UK's executive vice president for finance and administration, also said that the coaches and advisor failed to prevent a culture of hazing, alcohol use and public nudity at events where they were present.
Many view The University of Kentucky cheerleading program as one of the most successful in the NCAA. The team has won 24 national championships in the past 35 years, includes four consecutive titles from 2016-19. Capilouto said in the press release that UK has the nation's "premier collegiate cheerleading program," but the inappropriate behavior has compromised the integrity.