Ottawa University said it has “reluctantly” accepted the resignation of cheer coach Casey Jamerson after Jamerson allegedly made racist remarks toward a Black cheerleader who was subsequently removed from the team.
Cheerleader Talyn Jefferson said she was kicked off the cheer squad earlier this month because of her hairstyle and an incident between herself and Jamerson at practice. Jefferson, 20, told the Kansas City Star in an interview that she had stood up for herself after Jamerson made comments about her hair at practice.
“I got kicked off because I was standing up for myself against micro-aggressive comments that the coach made toward me, that made me and others very uncomfortable,” Jefferson told the Star.
“Instead of the university addressing the fact that the comments were out of line and made me uncomfortable and the coach should have apologized, their solution was to kick me off instead.”
Jamerson has denied all allegations against her. Ottawa University is a small Christian school located in Ottawa, Kansas, a town approximately an hour southwest of Kansas City.
What cheerleader said happened
A friend of Jefferson’s posted Jefferson’s side of the story through a text message to Twitter on Jan. 16. In her text to her friend, Jefferson said that Jamerson told her she needed to take her bonnet off. Jefferson then told Jamerson that she needed to keep it on to prevent her hair braids from hitting her teammates.
“From there she tells me that I am using my hair as an excuse. I told her I would rather not talk about this anymore because you do not understand. That’s all I said,” Jefferson wrote to her friend. “From there [Jamerson] got very angry and hostile and she started throwing her hands [and] says ‘I don’t understand! I do understand! I do black people’s hair! I’m a cosmetologist. I lived with a black girl for five years I do understand what it’s like to have hair like that!’”
Jefferson then said Jamerson said her hair was a hindrance to her cheer performance and “not collegiate.” Jamerson also allegedly told her to “get the f***” out of practice and accused Jefferson of “talking s***.”
The school told the Star last week that Jefferson’s hairstyle had nothing to do with why she was no longer part of the team. Jefferson had been on the cheerleading squad for over two years. Jamerson was in her first year as the team’s cheer coach.
University: ‘No violation’ of school protocols
Ottawa said in its statement on Saturday that no wrongdoing had taken place and accused false information on social media and “certain media outlets” of amplifying the tension between Jamerson and Jefferson. A spokesperson for the school had previously called the incident between the two “regrettable.”
“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,” the school said. “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.”
The Lawrence, Kansas, police department said that Jamerson had filed a police report on Jan. 22 regarding harassment she had received online. An officer for the department told the Star that none of the harassment Jamerson reported to the department had directly threatened her life.
School president Dr. Reggies Wenyika said in the statement that Jamerson’s decision to resign was an “unselfish act” and that she cared too much about the team to continue as coach. Jamerson said in the statement that she was going to be an ongoing distraction for the school had she continued in her current role.
“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.”