CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – The Coastal Carolina University cheerleading coach is speaking out after her name appeared throughout hundreds of documents from the investigation into allegations that cheer team members participated in an escort service, among other claims of misconduct.
The cheerleading squad was suspended in March after an anonymous letter alleged members of the team were involved in an escort service, gave alcohol to underage members, and paid others to complete their homework.
On Friday, WMBF news received hundreds of documents from the CCU investigation, as part of the Freedom of Information Act. Those documents show emails from volunteer coach Marla Sage, voicing concerns about the team back in February.
Sage is now speaking out about those emails - and how she reacted when she received that anonymous letter - accusing team members.
"I received the letter that was sent and that was the first time I saw it, but the only thing I deal with is their code of conduct at the school, so basically I turned that over and I didn't have anything to deal with that from that point on."
Sage became involved with the cheerleading team in December following a "change of command." She was asked if she would lead the squad for the spring semester.
She does not get paid by the university to coach either the dance or cheer teams, as she is a CCU volunteer. So, how does she feel about the allegations against her team?
"All I really can say about it is any athletic department, whether it's high school level or college level, has a code of conduct that they expect the athletes to follow," Sage said.
She added her primary job as a coach is to make sure her athletes are healthy, stay on top of their academics and always give their best.
"Be the best person you can be, hold yourself accountable, do what's expected of you, respect others if you want to be respected," Sage said. "With this situation, I just feel it's important that if you're an athlete, then you respect all of those things and you uphold to the expectations of being a college athlete."
When asked if the cheer team was meeting those expectations, Sage said, "Definitely not, no."
As far as the specific allegations against the cheer team that were written in the anonymous letter, Sage said she received it, but didn't do anything with it.
"I basically turned that over and I didn't have anything to do with that from that point on," she said.
CCU has not yet commented on the ongoing investigation.
Read more details gleaned from the documents in our story below, including a more complete timeline of the events leading up to and proceeding the anonymous letter sent to the school's president: