Education Top News

Entire University Cheer Team Suspended Over Accusations of Prostitution


By Kody Fairfield

WMBF  is reporting that the Coastal Carolina University cheerleading team has been suspended indefinitely pending a conduct investigation, according to a statement from a university official.

UPDATE 4/7/17:

According to The

A Freedom of Information request obtained by The Sun News, cheerleaders involved in the escort services 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, 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” Thursday morning.

“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.

An anonymous cheerleader, who spoke to WMBF, that 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.

The cheerleader also explained that the team was met by police outside the room where the team practices. She said that the officers called the names of individual team members, and took them to CCU’s police station for questioning.

While at the police department, the anonymous cheerleader claims that police searched through their cell phones and finally, said they could leave, after telling them they did nothing wrong.

WMBF who checked in with CCU Vice President of Communications William M. Plate Jr., explains that the school has no incident report of the investigation.

According to WMBF, the cheerleading section of the CCU website has been rerouted, a cheering showcase planned at the school is no longer on the schedule, and the team has been notified that they will no longer be attending a national competition in Florida.

The missing of the national competition seems to have especially frustrated the cheerleaders. 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, according to WMBF.

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.

WMBF reported that many of the team members took to Twitter to express their confusion and displeasure.

WMBF explained that one tweeted, “And just like that, everything you’ve ever worked for was just taken in a blink of an eye.”

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, said WMBF.

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.


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