University of Kentucky dismisses cheerleading coaches following hazing investigation


University of Kentucky cheerleaders lead the football team on to the field at Commonwealth Stadium before the start of a NCAA college football game against Tennessee-Martin in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. [AP Photo/Garry Jones]

LEXINGTON, KY (WOWK) — The University of Kentucky announced the dismissal of all four cheerleading coaches following an investigation of alleged inappropriate conduct by squad members, including hazing activities, alcohol use and public nudity.

The university says its decision is intended to protect students and ensure the integrity of the cheerleading program.

UK says a three-month investigation found the coaching staff and administrative advisor allegedly failed to provide reasonable oversight during off-campus events, where inappropriate conduct by members of the cheerleading squad supposedly took place. In response, Head Coach Jomo Thompson and Assistant Coaches Ben Head, Spencer Clan and Kelsey LaCroix were dismissed from their duties with the program.

The investigation also found alleged neglectful oversight and poor judgment by T. Lynn Williamson, who served as the cheerleading program’s advisor for four decades, according to the university. Williamson retired days after learning of the investigation and being directed to have no contact with the cheerleading squad.

“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. 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,” says University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto.

University of Kentucky Athletics will oversee the cheerleading program to provide more control and accountability, the university says.

The investigation began in early February after a cheerleader’s family member called alleging the inappropriate conduct, according to Eric N. Monday, UK’s executive vice president for finance and administration. The process included interviews with more than 60 students, coaches and administrators in the cheerleading program.

“The advisor and the coaches failed to stop a culture of hazing, alcohol use and public nudity at off-campus activities where they were present,” says Monday. “Our students deserve more responsible leadership and the University of Kentucky demands it.”

The university says more details about the report are available on UK’s website.

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