By LARRY VAUGHT
It has been about 48 hours now since the allegations about drinking, hazing and nudity during University of Kentucky cheerleading team functions last summer surfaced along with the announcement that all four coaches had been fired and the cheerleading advisor had resigned.
A former cheerleader I know share some of her thoughts about what the three-month investigation found and her respect for what coach Jomo Thompson had done for her.
Not everyone agreed with what she said just like not everyone agreed with UK’s actions to fire the coaches.
I asked her last night how she felt about the reaction to her comments and the whole cheerleading scenario.
“Today I was more upset and proud at the same time. Upset when there are masses of us coming forward with the same normal information and anyone not involved is like, ‘Hmmm they are too perfect, don’t believe it!’” she said. “Then search through our posts and videos to twist anything they can.
“I get the other side of it, though, when someone makes such a bold and intense accusation within a program that does so well. It seems like there are all of these secrets! When really we’ve just told you all of our traditions that no longer only belongs to us.”
She believes having no other sports increased the attention on this incident but UK’s national championship success probably would have assured that no matter when this came to light.
However, pay attention to this.
“The biggest thing about this is just accepting responsibility. If someone felt a certain way, they should have held a meeting with the coaches or school at that time,” the former cheerleader said. “We sign contracts, we have meetings, we have to stay on track 24/7. If something was truly off, someone would have come forward sooner.
“Jomo contacted my mom once just because I wasn’t acting myself on the bus. I just don’t believe someone would or could hold something that serious (hazing) with them for a whole year with school and sports. It’s very convenient to happen when squads were being considered. It’s just not how to respond to anything. If you want a different spot, work harder. That’s why all of the alumni are upset.”
The complaint to UK came in February, months after the summer outings, and just before cheerleaders were apparently being assigned to different squads.
But for the former cheerleader, the most difficult part has been posts on social media from UK fans saying they “don’t want their little girls to cheer” for Kentucky now.
“We’re not all perfect little angels as soon as we walk in the door. I don’t think anyone is when they get to college but the coaching did exactly what they were required —coach and make you a better person,” the former cheerleader said. “ There are lots of things I would never do now, but I learned how to act and how I was representing something larger than myself.”