Ottawa University’s head cheer and STUNT coach Casey Jamerson has chosen to step down from her position in the aftermath of allegations lodged by a student member of her team. The student claimed she was dismissed from practice, and later from the team, following a Jan. 5 practice session in which the student said that Coach Jamerson made comments that she perceived as microaggressive about her hairstyle. Jamerson denied the allegations.
The University’s Compliance Office conducted a thorough investigation that included, but was not limited to, the review of statements made by Coach Jamerson and the student, confidential interviews with students and other staff who were present, and the review of video footage. Based on the investigation, the University concluded no violation of University policy occurred.
Due to the false and misleading information subsequently posted on social media, and then picked up by certain media outlets, Coach Jamerson has been subjected to unfortunate vitriol, harassment and threatening comments online, via email and by phone. Some of the threats were concerning enough that Coach Jamerson was compelled to notify legal authorities.
“As I reflect over the events of the past three weeks, I can only conclude that my further involvement with the program is likely to continue to be a distraction for the team, our coaching and athletic staff, and other members of the OU community,” Jamerson said. “I do not want that for anyone involved. My colleagues and I have built a program of which we are very proud. By stepping away now, it is my sincerest desire that the OU cheer program, especially its student athletes, will continue to grow and flourish.”
Jamerson went on to say the events of the past three weeks “have been heartbreaking on many levels” and that she was “saddened and disappointed” to have concluded that she had to take this course of action. She was especially dismayed by how the criticism and attacks on her extended to the team, her colleagues and the institution.
Dr. Reggies Wenyika, president of Ottawa University’s Kansas campus, said he and Athletic Director Arabie Conner reluctantly accepted Coach Jamerson’s resignation, stating that the events over the past three weeks “have been extremely unfortunate to say the least.”
“To her credit, Coach Jamerson cares too much about her team and our school to allow that to continue,” Wenyika said. “While Ottawa University respects and must support her in her decision, let there be no doubt, this is a loss to our community. We appreciate this unselfish act by our coach even while we stand firmly on our previous statements as factual and true in every respect. Those who believe otherwise are simply wrong, uninformed, and have promoted dangerous attacks and falsehoods damaging many. We are committed to creating a safe, diverse, and inclusive environment, and we must re-double our efforts to support one another with mutual respect, understanding, and grace to reach that ideal. While it might be tempting for some to point to Ms. Jamerson’s decision to sow further division, we should respect her wishes, and use this as an opportunity for further learning and healing in our community.”
Coach Jamerson concluded with the following sentiment.
“Over my career, I have taken pride in the work that I have done and the commitment to the personal growth of the women and men I've been responsible for leading,” Jamerson said. “I wish each of them only the very best as they pursue their own personal lives of significance. I’m grateful to them and to my colleagues for their support and understanding.”
AD Conner said the University will begin an immediate search for a new coach to lead the program, which has captured the KCAC championship the past three seasons in a row.