Former UK Cheerleaders defend UK Cheer coaches after hazing, drinking investigation

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Dozens of former University of Kentucky Cheerleaders posted on social media about their shock and disagreement with Monday’s news all four cheer squad coaches were fired following a misconduct investigation.

The investigation looked into hazing, drinking, public nudity and oversight on the part of the coaches.

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In response, the University of Kentucky dismissed all four cheerleading coaches — Head Coach Jomo Thompson and Assistant Coaches Ben Head, Spencer Clan and Kelsey LaCroix — from their duties with the program.

Former team member Madison Mullin graduated fall 2018. She tweeted a video of her basket toss into the lake to respond to accusations of hazing on the yearly retreat.

She says while she wasn’t there this past fall, hazing, and even drinking, while at team events was not allowed, and coaches reprimanded such behavior.

“There were consequences. That’s what’s so frustrating, is the coaches did their part, like anytime they knew we drank, anytime they knew anything bad was going on, there were consequences. It wasn’t a free for all,” Mullin said.

According to the university’s report, part of the reasoning behind firing the coaches was lack of oversight.

Mullin says she feels like firing them for what she believes was misbehavior of students, is unjust.

“The coaches can’t control our actions, we are our own people, we’re adults,” she said.

Mullin says those coaches worked to shape Kentucky cheerleaders into better people, not just athletes.

“They paved the way for me to get an education,” she said. “I was the first person in my immediate family to get a college degree.”

She’s not the only one speaking up for her former coaches. Ezekiel Robertson graduated in 2017 and he echoes Mullin’s perspective.

“It hurts to think that people who aren’t in the cheer world, who didn’t know anything about Kentucky cheerleading in the first place, are going to now associate this amazing program and its legacy with these unfair accusations,” Robertson said.

The university says it was in the coaches’ “scope of responsibilities” to monitor misconduct, like drinking, something Robertson says some cheerleaders did when they weren’t supposed to, but coaches can’t always be everywhere to monitor said drinking.

“The coaches, never, they did not allow, they would not allow, any of the drinking, any usage or misconduct,” Robertson said.

Now, current cheerleaders anxiously await their future and that of the program that has defined dominance for decades.

For more information on what the University of Kentucky found in its investigation you can click here.

 

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Monica Harkins joined the ABC 36 News team in June 2019 as a Multimedia journalist and Anchor/Producer. She’s born and raised in Austin, Texas and headed “North,” as she calls it, to study broadcast journalism and business at the University of Missouri. While at Mizzou she anchored and reported for KOMU 8 News, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri all four years. During her childhood she played almost every sport, but they always called her “Hollywood” for her love of theatre. In high school, she realized her excitement for theatre and performing was only a small piece of the puzzle. It’s story telling that’s her passion. She’s especially passionate about social media and creative platforms to tell stories. Her most recent experiment is being a FAA certified drone pilot. As a proud Texan she says she’s made of country music, Southern hospitality and Sweet Tea. When she’s not at work you can find her trying new recipes, listening to crime podcasts, reading the latest romance novel or rockin’ out to live music with friends. She says she’s only a tweet or Facebook message away, so say hi and send her the latest on your community. @MonicaHarkinstv or Mharkins@wtvq.com