Varsity-backed Cheer governing body faces debt and liabilities

The cheerleaders and captains of the company have reached the worst possible conditions, however ambitious.

On the other hand, the cheerleading business is surrounded by snowball legal claims, industrial unrest and increased media scrutiny, all of which challenge Varsity Brands’ dominance over the market.

At the same time, cheering has made significant progress when it comes to Varsity’s goal of returning it to the Olympics and major universities, with the possibility of achieving a major victory by the end of this month.

For all of these reasons, industry stakeholders—and the Varsity itself—united on the idea that an independent, independent agency was needed to steer cheerleading out of scandal and litigation. in the present to peace and prosperity in the future.

Join the American Federation for Cheering Sport (USA Cheer), one of the varsity cheer teams, the multi-billion dollar Bain Capital firm, has helped launch over the past two decades. Long considered the small fry in this group of Varsity-related teams, USA Cheer has taken on a bigger role in recent years.

The Texas nonprofit, which lives on a multi-million dollar, non-interest-bearing loan from the Varsity, has proven itself to be the best choice to serve as a unified governing body for all the happy, whole clubs. and professional teachers.

It is a long process for the group, 15 years after its establishment, it has not yet proven that it can stand on its own financial feet, let alone face the challenges facing the industry it claims to represent.

Among those challenges are 12 pending lawsuits, filed in the past four months, that accuse Varsity, USA Cheer and an affiliated organization, the United States All-Star Federation (USASF) , and conspiracy to fabricate and conceal an accusation. youth culture-sport hunters.

The lawsuit follows three federal lawsuits accusing Varsity of operating in an illegal manner that harms consumers, eliminates healthy competition and puts children’s lives at risk.


The USASF has been in the spotlight for allegations of abuse against women. Founded by Varsity in 2003—four years before USA Cheer was born—USASF has become the country’s most powerful “governing power,” overseeing some 150,000 athletes and sanctioning more than 800 club sports each year, which ending with a high profile, ESPN- World of Cheerleading and World of Dance televised in April. This may interest you : Full WR space makes tough decisions for Eagles as cut day approaches | Crowd Birds. In recent years, however, the USASF has been plagued by doubts about whether its relationship with the Varsity has hindered its efforts to investigate complaints.

A lawsuit filed last week in California accuses a current USASF board member, Becky Herrera, owner of the CheerForce gym in Simi Valley, of facilitating allegations of abuse by a former coach, Shawn Miller. against the plaintiff, identified as “E.M.” (Neither Herrera nor Miller responded to emails and LinkedIn messages seeking comment.)

“USA Cheer and USASF are two different organizations,” said Lauri Harris, who has served as USA Cheer’s executive director since 2017, after a quarter-century working with Varsity. Harris insists that, for starters, USA Cheer has been “independent since its inception,” and that the organization has made efforts to quickly become independent.

But as USA Cheer took center stage, some critics viewed it as a puppet of the varsity, staid USASF, incapable of rooting out abuse and recruiting professional swimmers. ‘Antu.

“I think it’s up to them to prove that it’s not what they’re best at,” said David Owens, whose tournament company, Rockstar Championships, is the lead plaintiff in the antitrust case. Varsity and USA Cheer. “In my opinion, USA Cheer was not created for the benefit of our industry; it was created as a means of control.”

Les Stella, executive director of the International Federation of Cheerleaders, which launched in July as an independent alternative to USASF and USA Cheer, argues that no governing body can serve the needs of the sport without having long relationship from each. company for profit, but especially from the Varsity.

“As someone who loves Lauri—I’ve known her for 30 years,” Stella said. “She’s a really good person. But it’s the same thing with the USASF: A lot of people doing what they believe is the right thing for the kids, but the problem is that the Varsity controls it. “

Stella said he was speaking from experience, where he served for many years as a Varsity staff member, served on the USASF Rules Committee, and became the Executive Director of its sister organization, the International All-Star Federation (IASF). . He recalls that at their first meeting to discuss IASF, Varsity founder Jeff Webb told him in no uncertain terms why the company created the government agency: “It’s not because we want other government agencies to tell us what to do.” Let’s do it. It’s our strategy to own any star performer, and it’s worked too.”

Stella said Webb reiterated this point, in the same language, several times. (Through a spokesman, Webb said he had “no intention” of saying anything like that.)

Harris claims that Owens’ and Stella’s views on America Cheer are that of a misunderstood, if vocal, minority.

“You’re always going to have those critics,” she said. “But we have, from the beginning, tried to stick to that mission to try to grow the sport of cheerleading, keep it healthy and represent America.”

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In July 2021, the International Olympic Committee (IUU), which was launched online, received full recognition from the International Olympic Committee after many opportunities to participate in the Olympic movement. Read also : Joe Joyce loved cheerleading and trampoline jumping before he became a fearsome heavyweight boxer…. The next step in Webb’s vision of bringing joy to the Summer Games will be approval from the US Paralympic Committee.

This became one of the biggest charges against USA Cheer, which Webb originally chaired, and which the ICU had long dismissed as an American affiliate. As of 2019, USA Cheer is striving to become one of the USOPC’s “Recognized Sports Organizations,” a ranking second to the governing bodies of non-Olympic sports.

To achieve this goal, America Cheer became a 501(c)(3) federal charity in June 2021, having operated as a 501(c)(6) since its inception. Its new tax system delivers on the public good objective and accommodates high annual reporting requirements.

In November, the World Allstar Team also applied to become an accredited affiliate of Team USA, with Stella distinguishing it as a “true 501(c)(3).”

If nothing else, Stella’s team appears eager to serve as an Olympic prosecutor.

“I don’t think that the USOPC knows all these things (with USA Cheer),” he said. “They don’t know what’s going on in the greeting.”

The Games did not make the list of those being considered for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, which established the 2032 Games in Brisbane as the first possibility.

For USA Cheer, the most relevant, close victory could come from America’s other major cheerleader: the NCAA.

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At its annual meeting in San Antonio next week, the NCAA is set to vote on whether to grant sports status to Stunt—a Varsity-created, USA Cheer-promoting female cheer competition spinoff—for all three collegiate divisions. Read also : Operation Football Cheerleaders of the Week: Pendleton Heights High School. Acceptance of the expected Stunt, after facing rejection in the past, will put him on par with the sports of American Gymnastics, Acrobatics & amp; Tumbling, which earned NCAA rising status in 2020.

“We appreciate any increase in opportunities for women,” said Janell Cook, executive director of the National Collegiate Acrobatic & The Tumbling Club. “However, with the combination in the technical system, training mechanics, equipment, recruiting area and competition time, it is not known how [Stunt] will lead to new NCAA opportunities.”

Separately, other A&T supporters felt that Stunt’s real purpose was to find the varsity a way to profit from its once-disrupted affiliate market, fearing that the NCAA’s offseason rules and practice restrictions would disrupt the line led by the club.

In 2010, Webb testified as an expert witness on behalf of five women’s soccer players who filed a class action, gender equality lawsuit against Quinnipiac University after the school decided to cut their games in favor of acrobatics. & tumbling (then called “cheerleading”) team. In his testimony, Webb told a federal court that cheerleading should not be considered a joke.

That year, USA Cheer—with Webb serving as its board president—sent to the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics a proposal to include Stunt as an emerging sport, matching USA Gymnastics’ field of Acrobatics & Tumbling. Noting their similarities, the NCAA committee later suggested that the two camps join forces to promote the same sport, which they did not agree to. Instead, they continued as rivals.

Webb continued to serve as president of USA Cheer until 2014, when he left that position to focus on ICU. Bill Seely, USA Cheer’s first executive director — and current president of Varsity Spirit — replaced Webb as board president, while the club’s leadership became vacant for the next three years.

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When Harris finally took over as CEO in 2017, USA Cheer began rewriting its bylaws in anticipation of becoming a 501(c)(3).

Seely continued to lead USA Cheer until earlier this year, when she was replaced by Rhonda Blanford-Green, who recently ended her position as commissioner of the Colorado High School Activities Association. Blanford-Green is not a general presence, being one of the founding committee members of USA Cheer.

“I saw and was part of the original, and the development,” she said in an interview with Sportico last month. “I think we’re learning a lot about what’s expected of the Olympics, and the NCAA, of the team that’s fighting to get that opportunity recognized.”

In order to address the problems of enthusiasm and strength, Blanford-Green said, it became increasingly important to consolidate the leadership of the sport under one authority.

“There’s no one particular group that can bring all of these things together and set an expectation,” Blanford-Green said, “whether that expectation is for safety or a message that’s relatable to everyone.” get into that space. And I think that’s the goal of USA Cheer, to try and bring all these teams together and have hope at every level no matter where that might be. So it takes time.”

Although Blanford-Green was not an employee of Varsity — as Seely and Harris were — she was not completely removed from the company. As with other high school athletic teams across the country, the Varsity has an affiliate agreement with the Colorado State Sports Association.

Seely, who declined to comment for this story, remains on the USA Cheer board, serving as the constituency representative for the faculty message, while Justin Carrier, vice president of varsity, serves as director representing “all – cheerleader.” Carrier, who also declined to comment, currently serves as a USASF board member, as well.

David Owens argued that if it is to be taken seriously, USA Cheer needs, at the very least, to share all “primary ties” to the USASF.

“You don’t give them an ounce of power in the organization over the kids,” Owens said.

The USASF did not respond to a request for comment.

In late 2020, USA Cheer and USASF announced that they will be working together on the “Athlete Health Reporting System Risk,” which includes a list of restrictions and cheer coaches that can be found on sites of both groups. Since the establishment of this list, it has been criticized for not including those who have been convicted of sex crimes, and the number of defendants in cases of violence against women. After the initial lawsuit was filed in September, Harris told Sportico that USA Cheer was “evaluating” its relationship with USASF. When asked about it again last week, she said there was no update.


According to USA Cheer’s recently filed tax return, the Varsity’s debt has increased to a balance of $4.8 million at the end of 2021, nearly $20,000 more than the previous fiscal year.

“I’m not sure where people think to start,” Harris said. “It’s not just money that goes around to do a good job. …Varsity puts money in there [for USA Cheer]. I know people are criticizing it, but there aren’t long lines of people queuing.”

Stella of the World Allstar Federation, however, pushed back on this statement: “How do they know that no one wants to start a governing body? When Varsity is giving you millions of dollars, you never really ask anyone. “

In 2021, USA Cheer reported a loss of about $99,000 after taking in about $1 million in revenue—indicating that it still has a long way to go to achieve financial independence.

Like other changes USA Cheer has sought to implement, Harris said the disease has halted her ability to pay for Varsity.

“Everything has slowed down with COVID, honestly, and that’s part of the reason why the debt hasn’t been paid,” Harris said. “This is my first year back.”

However, in a statement through a spokesperson, the Varsity described the loan as “temporary financial assistance” and said that USA Cheer has begun paying.

“Varsity Spirit and America Cheer are separate, distinct, and financially independent organizations,” the statement said. “Any suggestion to the contrary would be false and misleading.”

Varsity tried to make a similar case in court.

In the company’s motion filed late last month in the sexual harassment lawsuit, Varsity argued that the plaintiffs failed to establish as a matter of law that it is the “parent company” of either USASF or USA Cheer. The filings point to language in an appeals court ruling from a separate case, which suggests that the establishment or financing of an entity alone is not sufficient to establish ownership or control of said entity.

“Representatives of Varsity Spirit held seats on one or both committees for a period of time that failed to provide a basis for controlling USASF or USA Cheer as a legal substitute for Varsity Spirit for the purposes of these claims,” ​​the Varsity motion said.

America Cheer has not yet filed its response in the lawsuit. Her attorneys did not respond to requests for comment.

For her part, Blanford-Green said her agency is on the path to self-sustainability.

“The growth of the members of USA Cheer, the different arms that are placed under its umbrella, allow it to be sustainable without feeling the burden of a group or an outside organization,” she said.

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Who is Andy from Navarro?

Andy Cosferent was Navarro’s assistant coach during Cheer season 1 and 2, but is no longer working as Monica Aldama’s right-hand man. Andy helped decide who would make the mat each year and helped create the daily routines for the tournament.

What happened to coach Andy in Cheer? According to his Instagram page Andy is currently running a new business venture called Cheer Source All Star, “a new big brand, lots of games and fun.”

What happened to Andy in Navarro? According to his Instagram bio, Andy now owns Cheer Source, a cheer camp. “It’s hard not to talk about this, but here it is… I’m very proud and happy to start this new job and company!

What happened with Rockstar Cheer?

The coaches, along with Rockstar founder Scott Foster, are accused of several crimes, including rape, providing drugs to players, groping and touching inappropriately, and sharing sexual images. In many cases, allegations of abuse occurred when the plaintiffs were minors.

How many locations does Rockstar Cheer have? Rockstar Cheer has 16 locations across the country and in South Carolina, including Columbia, Greenville, Charleston, and Rockhill.

Who started Rockstar Cheer? Rockstar Cheer is a cheerleading gym with locations in South Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Ohio, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. It was founded by Scott Foster and his wife Kathy in Greenville, South Carolina.

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