University of Kentucky fires all of its cheerleading coaches following hazing probe
The Kentucky Wildcats cheerleaders take the court during the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 21, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida.(Getty Images)
The University of Kentucky has fired all of its cheerleading coaches following a probe into hazing allegations, including an incident that involved squad members tossing their topless teammates into a lake while they performed gymnastic routines.
Head coach Jomo Thompson and assistant coaches Ben Head, Spencer Clan and Kelsey LaCroix all lost their jobs with the championship-winning program, officials announced during a press conference on Monday.
T. Lynn Williamson, the program’s adviser since 1978, retired days after learning of the allegations, according to a press release from the school. He was directed at the time to have no contact with the cheerleading squad, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.
The three-month investigation, conducted by by the Office of Student Conduct and Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity, uncovered evidence of alcohol consumption as well as public nudity.
University Provost David Blackwell said the coaches failed to address certain hazing incidents and partying duirng an annual retreat at Lake Cumberland. During the getaway, some cheerleaders performed a gymnastic move that involved launching their teammates from a dock and into the water, according to WKYT.
Students were either topless or bottomless during the “basket tosses,” which were carried out at the direction of other members of the squad and within the view of at least some of the coaches. They additionally allowed cheerleading alumni to bring alcohol and boats, where some cheerleaders drank and lounged while partially naked.
Several squad members became so intoxicated during the outing that they required medical attention.
“It’s unclear how long inappropriate behavior has been part of the off campus trips," Blackwell said.
“However, we believe these activities were not confined to the past year, and may have been tolerated for many years. While much is still unclear, given the conflicting accounts from dozens of participants interviewed, one thing is crystal clear. The blue and white squads have been operating under lax oversight for many years.”
UK Athletics will immediately begin the national search for a new head coach, who will be part of the selection of assistant coaches and the 2020-21 team members this summer.