The University of Kansas cheer team is on probation following allegations of a hazing incident that occurred last July, with senior squad members and alumnae accused of stripping first-year members during an initiation and allowing them to be seen by male alumni.
Rival school Kansas State University’s newspaper, The Collegian, also reported the story and cited the accusers as being female.
Two cheerleaders came forward to report the incident, who said that a total of six initiates were subject to abuse. According to the two (who chose to remain unnamed for fear of consequences), the alleged mistreatment occurred while the squad was on campus during a summer camp for elementary children.
Reportedly, assistant couch Kaitlin Lugo sent the six newbies a group message instructing them to meet at a hill near the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium with running shoes. When the girls arrived, only KU alumni were there to greet them.
One source said, “We ran the hill up and down twice. We got to the bottom and they told us to lay on the ground. They blindfolded us and took us one by one into different cars.” Allegedly, music was blaring in the vehicles while they were driven erratically to a vacant house.
The other source said that upon arrival at the house, she was put in a cardboard box and people were “banging on the sides.” Both girls report that they were taken to a room where they were questioned, and forced to remove an article of clothing with each incorrect response. An alleged victim said, “They questioned me, took off my clothes and put my blindfold back on.”
Right after being stripped, an accuser said, “I had taken my blindfold off along with another girl sitting next to me and two alumni guys walked in and saw us naked.”
“After that,” a source said, “they took two girls downstairs, they had been initiated. And then they took me and two other girls, put us in a room together and told us we were ugly, we don’t deserve to be on the team and our skills weren’t good enough. They sat us down with all the alumni and all returning cheerleaders.”
Director of student conduct and community standards for KU, Lance Watson, wrote a letter three days after the incident, saying: “With the information received regarding the alleged hazing, the university will conduct an investigation to determine what occurred and whether it is a violation of university policy.”
The two girls who reported being hazed expressed frustration, saying that head coach Lyndsay Marriot dismissed their concerns and told them that “the older girls were not getting punished for it so we just needed to move on.”
KU’s cheer squad is now a member short, with one of the accusers saying: “The reason I am leaving KU is solely because the university and athletic department decided to treat me and my other teammates like we didn’t matter and were instead just pretty faces for the media.”