Ohio State University has fired the head coach of its cheerleading team, following allegations that she didn't report the sexual misconduct of two assistant coaches. Lenee Buchman, 44, was fired yesterday, Dan Wallenberg, spokesman for OSU's athletic department, confirmed by e-mail.
Ohio State University has fired the head coach of its cheerleading team, following allegations that she didn’t report the sexual misconduct of two assistant coaches.
Lenee Buchman, 44, was fired yesterday, Dan Wallenberg, spokesman for OSU’s athletic department, confirmed by e-mail.
Steve Chorba has been named interim head coach, Wallenberg said. Chorba has been an assistant coach at Ohio State since July 2013, and previously served as head cheerleading coach at Illinois State University.
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OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith told the cheerleading team of Buchman’s dismissal last night, including Cody Ellis, who had made the initial complaints against one of the assistant coaches.
Buchman had removed Ellis, a fifth-year senior, from the squad in August, after he complained last school year that assistant coach Eddie Hollins had sent him sexually explicit text messages, said John C. Camillus, an attorney representing Cody Ellis.
Among the texts: an offer to replace Ellis’ boyfriend in a sex act.
Following an investigation, Ohio State fired Hollins, as well as assistant coach Dana Bumbrey, a male assistant coach who was accused of making sexual jokes and inappropriate comments to female cheerleaders. At that time, they also sent Buchman to a sexual-harassment seminar.
Last night, Buchman, who earned $42,578 a year as head coach, didn’t return calls for comment. Hollins and Bumbrey also have never discussed the situation.
Given OSU’s acknowledgement of the misconduct, Camillus said he hopes that Smith will now “see fit to put Cody back on the cheerleading team and reinstate all his benefits, including his scholarship.”
“From what I know from Cody and after reviewing the investigation, the culture of this cheerleading program struck me as wildly dysfunctional and horribly, sexually inappropriate,” Camillus said.
The assistant coaches had said that the allegations were just playful, and that sexual joking among coaches and team members was common.
Because of student privacy laws, the university can’t comment on the reason why Ellis was removed, said Ohio State spokesman Gary Lewis.
Given the “rampant culture of widespread sexual misconduct” reported this spring, Camillus said it leaves little doubt that Buchman was aware of problems.
“If she didn’t foster it, she at least didn’t do anything to stop it,” he said.
Dispatch Reporter Encarnacion Pyle contributed to this story.