Kentucky Fires Coaches After Cheerleading Team's Hazing, Public Nudity and More

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2020

JACKSONVILLE, FL - MARCH 23:  The Kentucky Wildcats logo on a pair of shorts during the Second Round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament against the Wofford Terriers at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on March 23 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The University of Kentucky fired head cheerleading coach Jomo Thompson and three assistant coaches after a three-month investigation uncovered a lack of oversight regarding inappropriate and lewd behavior by members of the squad in off-campus events.

The investigation found cheerleaders participated in hazing activities, alcohol use and public nudity during Thompson's tenure. Assistants Ben Head, Spencer Clan and Kelsey LaCroix were also fired, and program adviser T. Lynn Williamson retired after learning of the investigation.

Kentucky President Eli Capilouto issued a statement:

"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.

"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."

According to the investigation, cheerleaders performed basket tosses while either topless or bottomless at the direction of other squad members during a team retreat at Lake Cumberland. Coaches were aware of the situation but did not step in.

Coaches also allowed cheerleading alumni to bring alcohol to the retreat, which was consumed by some squad members who were riding on boats and/or partially naked. According to the release, "several squad members became so intoxicated they needed medical treatment." It is not stated whether anyone drinking was underage.

At a cheerleading camp in Tennessee, squad members instructed their teammates to "perform lewd chants and wear outfits that did not include underwear."

"The annual retreat will be eliminated, and all off-campus trips will be closely supervised," executive associate athletics director Sandy Bell said. "Cheerleading squad members will be held to the same standards as all our student-athletes. It's a new day for UK cheerleading."

The investigation did not find any evidence of sexual assault or misconduct.

Thompson had been Kentucky's cheerleading coach since 2002. Kentucky has won 24 national championships in the last 35 years and is considered the premier cheerleading program in the country.