Cheer coach Jomo Thompson responds to firings, investigation


Thompson statement

Natalie Parks

Almost two weeks after being fired from his position as head coach of UK’s championship cheer team, Jomo Thompson has posted a statement on his Facebook page responding to the investigation and firings.

Thompson, who coached at UK for almost 20 years after two years as a student on the squad, first thanked everyone for the “overwhelming support” shown to him and the other coaches.

“The kind words from current and former cheerleaders, friends and fans of the sport made a difficult week bearable and truly lifted my spirits,” Thompson wrote.

Thompson was fired on May 18 alongside assistant coaches Ben Head, Spencer Clan and Kelsey Lacroix after UK investigated allegations of hazing, public nudity and drinking at cheer team events.

The program’s long-time adviser, T. Lynn Williamson, retired in May after learning of the investigation.

Eric Monday, UK’s vice president for finance and administration, said at a press conference that the coaches did not receive any financial compensation for their firing. 

In his statement, Thompson wrote that he has “always and will continue to love the University of Kentucky and its cheer program.”

“Real success for me was fostering the growth and development of these young adults to make them better human beings,” Thompson wrote.

While he said he was proud of the years spent coaching at UK, Thompson also said that he did not agree with the “manner in which my relationship with the University of Kentucky came to an end.”

“I feel as though I should have been given more of an opportunity to present my perspective on the facts and events that have been reported,” Thompson said. “I feel that the lack of opportunity to respond was unfair.”

Thompson was interviewed on April 17, 2020, by the Office of Institutional Equity and Equality of Opportunity, which handles discrimination, harassment and Title IX violations.

The report from the OIEEO found that “there is no implication that the coaching staff and administrators actively encouraged the team to engage in harassing behavior. However, there can be no doubt that the coaches and administrator knew or should have known that there were members of the team engaging in topless or bottomless basket-tosses.”

The OIEEO report recommended that the coaches be fired because they allowed conditions to exist that could have led to a hostile environment formed on the basis of sex.

Thompson is the first of the coaches to speak publicly on the firings. After the investigation, UK administrators announced that management of the cheer program would fall to the athletics department. Sandy Bell, executive associate athletics director, was appointed to lead the search for a new coaching staff.

“These students deserve our support to help them be successful. Successful as cheerleaders in competition, as students in the classroom, and as citizens and leader outside the university,” Bell said at the press conference. “UK Athletics is committed to providing this support and we’re making that pledge directly to current squad members.”

UK officials met with squad members on the afternoon of Monday, May 18. Many current and former cheerleaders took to social media to express their disagreement with the firings.

In the two hours after Thompson posted his statement on Facebook, it was shared 430 times, had 1,600 reactions and 300 comments.

Thompson closed his statement by again expressing his gratitude and directing thanks to students, parents and his staff.

“If there is one thing I want to be remembered for in this life, it’s not for the status or the championships, but that I was a kind person,” Thompson wrote.

Read Thompson’s full post below: