CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Coastal Carolina University has concluded its conduct investigation into the 2016-2017 cheerleading team, and no further action is being taken against them, according to a statement from the university released Friday.
"The University has thoroughly investigated this matter, taking into consideration the mission of the institution and our No. 1 priority and obligation to protect the safety and well-being of our students," said CCU President David A. DeCenzo. "As a public institution with a code of ethical conduct and as a public agency entrusted with public funds, we have a duty to investigate serious allegations. We had no choice."
Attorney Amy Lawrence from the Lovely Law Firm, who is representing several members of the cheerleading team, offered this response:
The statement from the university includes a timeline of events that led up to the team's suspension on March 29:
-On March 13, CCU received an anonymous letter containing allegations regarding conduct of the CCU's cheerleading team. "Based on the nature of those allegations, the University opened a conduct investigation on the same day, per University practice regarding non-NCAA regulated student organizations," the release states.
A supplemental report to the investigation that was also released on Friday confirms that university officials did learn the identity of the man who sent the anonymous letter and attempts were made to interview him to see if he could provide more information, but he refused to be interviewed.
-On March 28, investigators with the university got notice that there was a group text message among team members referenced the investigation and warned about "possible repercussions of certain conduct violations."
-On March 29, all cheerleading activities were suspended indefinitely as a result of the group text message, and "based on credible information gathered up to that time."
The suspension applied only the cheer activities, and didn't affect any students' academic standing other University or related privileges, like athletic training, financial aid or academic support.
The cheerleading team coach position, previously held by dance coach Marla Sage, will be filled before tryouts, which will be held on July 23 and 24, the release states. There plans for the finalized team to compete in pre-season camp, and complete the normal process to quality for national competition.
Any enrolled student at CCU can try out for the team, "but members of the CCU cheerleading team must meet and maintain specific academic, athletic and conduct requirements to remain a member of the team," the release states.
The CCU cheerleading team will continue to function as a part of the CCU's Department of Athletics, and all competitive and game-day aspects of the team will continue to function as they have previously.