Coastal Carolina University has set a date to hold cheerleading team tryouts.
Annual tryouts for the 2017-2018 co-ed cheerleading team will be held July 23 to 24 with plans for the finalized team to compete in preseason camp and complete the normal process required to qualify for national competition, according to an email from William Plate Jr., vice president of university communication and marketing.
Any enrolled student at CCU is eligible to 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, said Plate.
According to the 2016-17 cheerleading welcome packet, returning veterans are not guaranteed a spot on the team.
Plate said the cheerleading team coach position will be filled prior to tryouts.
According to CCU, Maureen Sullivan was the volunteer head coach from October 1, 2015 through December 1, 2016. Afterwards, the team was led by volunteer dance team coach Marla Sage.
Acording to emails obtained via a Freedom of Information Act, at least two people have inquired about the head cheer coach position.
School spokesman Doug Bell said there were no other details regarding the new cheer coach.
Though cheerleading is not an NCAA-sanctioned sport, the CCU cheerleading team will continue to function as a part of the CCU Department of Athletics, and all competitive and game-day aspects of the team will continue to function as they have in past years, said Plate.
The 2016-17 cheer team had previously been suspended pending a student conduct investigation but was completed on Wednesday. No students have been charged.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
An anonymous letter dated March 8 sparked and investigation into the cheer team and on March 28, investigators received notice that a group text message from a team member had been sent to all members of the cheerleading team that referenced the investigation and warned about the possible repercussions of certain conduct violations, according to William Plate Jr., vice president of university communication and marketing.
Plate said in an email that based on credible information gathered up to that time, all cheerleading activities were suspended indefinitely on March 29 pending the results of the final investigation. The cheerleaders were still allowed to go to class.
The criminal investigation report obtained by The Sun News from Coastal Carolina University via a Freedom of Information act request alleges that some members of the CCU cheer team worked as strippers and escorts.
According to the investigation report obtained by The Sun News through a Freedom of Information request, cheerleaders involved in an escort service were paid between $100 and $1,500 per date.
Cheerleaders also would receive goods such as Michael Kors purses, as well as shoes and clothes, according to the investigation. One cheerleader was offered $800 to escort a male to New York Prime, according to the report.
The cheerleaders would not engage in sexual favors, the report stated, but the investigation found “evidence of an escort service.”
The cheerleaders ran the operation through the website seekingarrangement.com, according to the report.
Text messages between cheerleaders advised team members working at the strip clubs, including Thee DollHouse, to quit their jobs until after a national cheerleading competition taking place in Dayton Beach, Fla., according to the report.
Amy Lawrence, an attorney who is representing five of the cheerleaders, called the suspension “unprecedented.”
“I am shocked and saddened to see these girls become victims of these baseless claims from an anonymous source,” Lawrence said in a news release. “Even more disheartening is that these girls were not permitted due process in their own defense to show just how outlandish and ridiculous these allegations truly are.”
The investigation found that 11 cheerleaders were aware of the escort service and seven were not aware, CCU reported.