National News

Coastal Carolina cheerleading team suspended amid prostitution allegations

Posted April 4

Source: WMBF

— The Coastal Carolina University cheerleading team has been suspended indefinitely pending a conduct investigation, according to a statement from a university official.

A cheerleader who spoke on the condition of anonymity said an investigator with the CCU Department of Public Safety came to their practice Wednesday night. The cheerleader said the investigator explained to the team an anonymous letter was mailed to school president David DeCenzo on March 7 alleging that team members were involved in “a long list of things,” including prostitution, purchasing alcohol for underage team members, and paying others to complete their homework assignments.

According to the cheerleader, the team was met by police outside the HTC Center after practice, who called the names of individual team members, and took them to CCU’s police station for questioning. During the questioning, the cheerleader said police searched through their cell phones. She said officers then told them they could leave around 11 p.m., after telling them they did nothing wrong.

There are currently no incident reports pertaining to the conduct investigation, CCU Vice President of Communications William M. Plate Jr. stated.

The cheerleading section of the CCU Athletics website, which once featured pictures of each member of the squad, has been removed from the website, and now directs to the school’s main Spirit Team page.

The HTC Center confirmed that a cheerleading showcase scheduled for April 4 is no longer on the center’s schedule for the week. The showcase was to be held ahead of the team’s scheduled appearance at a national competition in Florida.

The cheerleader said they were told they will no longer be able to attend the competition in Daytona Beach, Florida. Officials with the competition said the team is still registered and paid in full, and they have not heard the team will not be coming. Team members raised money for their own travel expenses to the competition, and are now upset that they are unable to attend, the cheerleader said.

Several cheerleaders and family members of the team have been active on social media condemning the university’s actions and the treatment of the team.

One tweeted, "And just like that, everything you've ever worked for was just taken in a blink of an eye."

William Walker, an uncle of one of the cheerleaders, said he first got wind of the incident when his niece called him from the university police station Wednesday night.

He said she sounded very angry on the phone, and proceeded to tell him that the team had been indefinitely suspended.

"Well she was at campus police station last night, 9:30-10:00, calling me just really, really mad,” Walker said. “She was more mad than upset that they had been ripped from practice, and told that they could no longer compete and were not going on to their nationals thing, and were taking them to the police station."

WMBF News has reached out to Athletic Director Matt Hogue, Martha Hunn, Associate Vice President of Communications, and the CCU Department of Public Safety for more information and to corroborate the cheerleader’s claims.

Horry County Police said they are not involved in the investigation at this time.

WMBF News has requested communications pertaining to the cheerleading team, as well as the letter allegedly sent to CCU President DeCenzo, through a Freedom of Information Act request. The school's FOIA office denied the request, stating the request concerns a pending investigation.

8 Comments

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  • Thomas Williams Apr 5, 8:32 a.m.
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    Maybe another "Duke fiasco", jumping the gun before the facts are in. I've had a similar thing happen to me where the police were involved, and I can say from personal experience it is a very bad experience. Seems like nowadays it is guilty until proven innocent (as one poster below noted). The media has no business publishing such information before the facts are in and verified. This sort of off the cuff action does a lot of damage to a lot of people. Unfortunately, you carry the stigma of being accused publicly, and if you are exonerated, the damage is done. It is just wrong, and there ought to be accountability for it, but there seems to be no accountability for the damage is done. Very disturbing.

  • New Holland Apr 5, 7:56 a.m.
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    what happened to innocent until proven guilty?

  • Jj Parker Apr 5, 6:52 a.m.
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    Sounds like a former cheerleader is a little upset

  • Wesley Wilder Apr 4, 11:55 p.m.
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    Seems to me this is a race to judge before we have all the information in. I seem to remember the Duke Lacrosse team from a couple years ago. Shame Shame.

  • Andy Holt Apr 4, 8:27 p.m.
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    If one of the allegations were that they purchased alcohol for underage team members... wouldn't that be the place to start? If the police say they did NOTHING wrong, and they apparently see NO need to conduct an investigation themselves, it seems like a big overreach by the school?

  • Charles Boyer Apr 4, 8:06 p.m.
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    If there was no proof, then the police may have overreacted. I agree with Max Hall -- if no untoward activities are discovered, then the letter writer should be investigated.

  • Max Hall Apr 4, 4:43 p.m.
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    They were scheduled for a national competition coming up shortly. Were they favored to win?

    Sounds like 'dirty pool' to me. Hopefully every avenue is being investigated here, including the possibility that the letter itself is a criminal act.

  • Catherine Edwards Apr 4, 4:36 p.m.
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    I would hope that the police and such are going off something they investigated, and found evidence to support the letter, and not just the letter itself.
    Otherwise, I think it would be very unfair to take action before any evidence was found.