Over 60 cheerleaders, coaches and advisers were interviewed during UK's investigation into hazing allegations associated with the cheer program. As a result of the investigation, four coaches were fired and the long-time adviser, T. Lynn Williamson, retired.
The investigative reports were released by UK on Monday, March 18, and track the hazing allegations and the lack of oversight in the cheer program. Here's a summary of the central figures involved in the program and the investigation.
Thompson was hired as head coach of the UK cheerleading program in 2002; previously, he was a member of the UK cheerleading squad as a student and then an assistant coach, totaling over 20 years with the program.
He graduated in 2002 from UK's College of Arts and Sciences after transferring from the University of Florida.
Since he took over as head coach, the UK cheerleading team has won 12 of its 24 national titles, the latest in 2019. As a cheerleader in college, he won two additional championships.
Thompson is also the first African-American head coach in the program's history.
T. Lynn Williamson
Williamson graduated from UK in 1968 as an undergraduate and in 1974 from the College of Law.
He became program adviser for the cheerleading team in 1978; under him, the program won all 24 of its Universal Cheerleaders Association national titles.
Williamson retired from UK in May of 2020 after learning of the investigation. In addition to cheer adviser, he also served as deputy general counsel for the university.
Williamson also helped found the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors and is "a leading advocate of safety and the education of liability and risk management for cheerleading," according to a UK Athletics news release from 2015, when Williamson was awarded the Sue Feamster Trailblazer award.
Williamson is involved in a second investigation regarding potential financial conflicts of interest, concerning alleged times he asked students to work on his house.
Assistant coach Spencer Clan is a former UK cheerleader who graduated in 2018.
From 2017 to 2019, Clan also cheered for the U.S. National Team.
Clan is the co-owner of Cheer Experts LLC, a gym that hosts cheerleading camps and clinics in his hometown of Louisville, Ky. Following the hazing investigation, Clan is a part of an investigation within the Office of Internal Audit about potential financial conflicts of interest between the UK cheer program and his business.
Assistant coach Kelsey LaCroix is a former UK cheerleader who graduated from the university in 2018 and joined the coaching staff soon after. She also works as a pediatric nurse.
Ben Head was hired as an assistant coach after graduating from UK in 2016. Like Lacroix and Clan, he is a former UK cheerleader. Head is also a part of the financial investigation looking into potential conflicts of interest due to his association with a gym, Central Elite Kentucky.
Sandy Bell, an executive associate athletics director at UK, was picked by athletics director Mitch Barnhart in the wake of the hazing allegations to oversee the cheer program and the hiring of a new coaching staff. Bell previously served as UK’s chief compliance officer before being promoted to her current position in 2012.
Bell gave a statement on changes to the program at a press conference on Monday, May 18.
"We are also making it clear that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated. The annual retreat will be eliminated and all off-campus trips will be closely supervised," Bell said. "Cheerleading squad members will be held to the same standards as all our student-athletes."
The Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity handles both internal and external discrimination and harassment complaints, Title IX violations, ADA compliance, equal opportunity training for employees and affirmative action. The office played a major role in the investigation and formulated the final report.
The Office of Student Conduct deals with issues related to the UK Code of Student Conduct including hazing reports, alcohol and drug misuse and a wide array of other violations. Since there were accusations of hazing and alcohol use, the office quickly became involved in both reviewing and interviewing participants.
The Office of Internal Audit focuses on risk management as well as financial and business conduct across the university. This office investigated financial concerns in the investigation and possible conflicts of interest.
Head, Clan, Lacroix and Thompson all received letters from the Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity that said that they "failed to act in a way that would prevent the creation of a hostile environment on the basis of sex," due to reports that they know or should have reasonably known about three incidents, including nudity at the team retreat.
Following recommendations from the OIE, all four coaches were dismissed from their positions.
Williamson's letter from the OIE while he was not mandated to report the incidents, the expectation of his position was to "intervene to prevent behavior that was inappropriate for a University sponsored event."
Because Williamson retired while the investigation was pending, the OIE made no recommendations to his supervisor.