UK Cheerleading Coaches Ousted Following Report On Squad Hazing, Public Nudity

May 18, 2020

The University of Kentucky has fired the coaching staff of the school's decorated cheerleading program after an investigation revealed instances of squad hazing, lewd chants, drunkenness, and public nudity at off-campus events.

Credit AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

"It's a new day," UK President Eli Capilouto announced Monday. "You will not hear of any behavior such as this going forward."

The president said he was most disturbed that the investigation revealed a breach of trust in the cheerleading program, which has brought home 24 national championships. And while no cheerleaders are facing dismissal, all four coaches — including head coach Jomo Thompson — will not be returning.

Provost David Blackwell gave examples of the types of behavior reportedly allowed to take place under lax oversight.

"During a team retreat at Lake Cumberland, some cheerleaders performed gymnastics routines that included hurling their teammates from a dock into the water while either topless or bottomless," he said. "The routines, known as basket tosses, were done at the direction other members of the squad and within the view of at least some of the coaches."

Blackwell said it's unclear how long the behavior, which also included heavy drinking by several members, has been tolerated.

Investigators performed 60 interviews, and while there were "conflicting accounts," reported no evidence of sexual harassment or assault, or involvement of any minors.

The school does not believe the report will affect UK's championship titles, but officials will be moving the cheerleading program under athletics department oversight, canceling annual retreats, and sending squad members to sexual harassment and anti-hazing training.