Sender of accusatory letter against CCU cheerleaders refuses to speak with investigators

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Coastal Carolina University has concluded its investigation into alleged criminal activity by CCU cheerleaders.

Documents released Friday by CCU’s Media Relations Office confirm that an anonymous letter alleged that CCU cheerleaders were involved in a number of crimes including, underage drinking, drugs, distribution of alcohol to minors, and prostitution. The letter also claimed some of the cheerleaders were paying to have their homework completed.

CCU’s investigation revealed the identity of the person who sent the anonymous letter to the school. While the reports from CCU do not name the sender of the letter, a document signed Wednesday by Investigator Michelyn Pylilo, says, “attempts were made to interview the sender of the letter to determine if he could provide additional information that could prove to be pertinent to this investigation, but he refused to be interviewed.”

The document concludes that the investigation into the CCU cheer squad is administratively closed “unless and until further information is obtained.”

A statement from CCU Vice President of University Communication and Marketing Bill Plate says the entire cheer team was suspended March 29 after “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.”

Plate clarifies that the suspension applied only to cheer activities, and it did not affect any student’s academic standing with the university or related privileges, such as athletic training, financial aid or academic support.

Plate’s memo notes that “the conduct investigation of the team has concluded. No further action is being taken by the University regarding the 2016-2017 CCU cheerleading team.”

CCU President David DeCenzo says the university was obligated to conduct the investigation.

“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. “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.”

CCU will move forward with cheerleading tryouts for next school year July 23-24. Plate says plans are in place for the finalized team to compete in preseason camp and complete the process to qualify for national competition.

“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,” Plate writes in the release.

CCU plans to have a cheerleading coach in place prior to the tryouts. Cheerleading is not recognized by NCAA as an official sports, but Plate says the cheer team will 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.”

In the closure of his release, Plate states, “there is no further information, and the university will not be granting interviews regarding this matter.”

A statement from Amy Lawrence with the Lovely Law Firm, who is representing a few cheerleaders, was released Friday in reference to the closed investigation:

While Coastal Carolina University may consider this matter closed, I believe that the university’s rush to judgment and use of a broad brush has damaged the many young women on the cheerleading team who had no involvement with this website.  I look forward to their stories being told in due course.