Cheer Squad at University of Central Oklahoma Suspended Following Hazing Allegations

Following allegations of hazing, UCO's cheer squad will be suspended for the rest of the year, the university said in a statement.
Following allegations of hazing, UCO's cheer squad will be suspended for the rest of the year, the university said in a statement.(iStock)

The nationally ranked team will not be allowed to compete in national competitions for the next two years and those involved with the alleged hazing may face additional consequences, including suspension from the university, according to the school.

The cheer team at the University of Central Oklahoma has been suspended following allegations of hazing, the school’s president said in an email statement to the community. As a consequence, the team is suspended for the rest of the school year and will be barred from participating in national competitions for the next two years, UCO President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar said in a news release Saturday.

“Hazing of any kind has no place at the university and will not be tolerated,” Neuhold-Ravikumar said in the statement.  

She did not specify details about the alleged hazing out of concern for student privacy, but called the actions “unacceptable and abhorrent” and said the students involved could face further consequences, including removal from the team and suspension from the university.

Cheerleaders that were not involved will undergo a membership-review process and could be allowed to try out for the team again next year, the statement said.

The cheer team and other student-organization leaders will be required to take additional training on hazing and bystander intervention.

“The UCO cheer team should embody the spirit of our community – encouraging us to give our best effort and to represent our university with pride and dignity,” Neuhold-Ravikumar said. “We consider our student organizations an extension of the university community and its values and we are committed to maintaining those standards.”

The University of Central Oklahoma makes clear its hazing policy on the university’s student life website, stating that hazing practices including “whipping, beating, branding … forced consumption of any food, alcoholic beverage … prolonged sleep deprivation … forced conduct which would result in extreme embarrassment … is not tolerated and expressly prohibited,” citing state laws against the practice.

The school’s cheer squad is known for being one of the best in the country and boasts winning 10 national championships in the last 11 years, according to its website.