As ongoing criminal investigations and civil lawsuits surrounding the Rockstar Cheer saga unravel what is shaping up to be a major national scandal, the story that originally ran two and a half times on our pages has received increasing media attention. weeks ago.
First, it was the national mainstream media that picked up the scent…
Now the story is making national headlines, including an extensive article in Sportico published just yesterday (September 7, 2022) by reporter Daniel Libit.
Sportico, owned by Penske Media Company, focuses its coverage on the “business of sports.” In reports from this outlet, Libit has provided extensive insight into the fierce market battles taking place in the multi-billion dollar cheerleading industry in the United States. Just this May, he gave an exhaustive account of a federal antitrust challenge to Varsity, a Tennessee-based company that dominates the cheerleading market.
Bain Capital bought Varsity in 2018 for $2.8 billion. The company, founded by former Oklahoma cheerleader Jeff Webb, is the manufacturer of “virtually every cheerleading uniform worn” in the world, according to a 2017 report by USA Today.
Webb is also closely involved with cheerleading “oversight” agencies such as the USA All Star Federation (USASF), which operates under the auspices of USA Cheer and claims to uphold “fair and consistent rules and standards of competition” in the cheer industry. It also aims to provide “the safest environment for market and dance athletes to train and compete.”
In addition, Webb is president of the International Cheerleading Union (ICU), which bills itself as the “world governing body for cheerleading” and has sought to include the sport in future Olympic competitions.
Libit’s latest article – which you can read here – explored the growing impact of the Rockstar Cheer scandal on Varsity and the wider cheerleading industry. It marked the first national, in-depth look at the Rockstar scandal, addressing a number of issues raised last week in a federal lawsuit filed by lawyers at the Columbia, South Carolina-based Strom Law Firm.
Strom Law attorneys Bakari Sellers, Jessica Fickling and Alexanda Benevento filed the lawsuit (.pdf) last Thursday on behalf of several survivors against Rockstar, its late founder Scott Foster, Varsity, USASF and several other co-defendants. He accused the entities of participating in a “scheme to smear specific coaches and disregard safety protocols” – all part of “an elaborate plan to create a pipeline of young athletes, each of whom represented a significant revenue stream … worth billions of dollars.” “
Those co-defendants also created, organized and promoted a scheme to abuse young athletes against innocent victims, according to the filing.
The lawsuit also alleged that the USASF was nothing more than a front for various companies that benefited from its lax oversight, both financially and in terms of widespread sexual exploitation of minors. Indeed, the suit alleged that the corporate defendants “concealed” their ownership and control of this supposedly independent entity.
“This was an abuse factory designed specifically to produce two things: a steady supply of underage victims for Scott Foster and his co-predators, and a billion dollar revenue stream for Varsity Spirit, USASF and Bain Capital,” Sellers (above) said. “Instead of protecting these young men and women, they victimized them and cashed their checks.”
One of the central pillars of the federal lawsuit is the allegation that Varsity executives knew about the alleged misconduct at Rockstar — and likely many other gyms around the country — but failed to take appropriate action because it was not in the company’s financial best interest. do so.
The Libit article quoted former Varsity CEO Marlene Cota as raising “concerns about Foster” with company executives in late 2017. According to Cota, nothing substantive was done because “Scott Foster and Rock Star Cheer are a multi-million dollar customer” and “sanctions against him would have potentially hurt profits.”
Specifically, Cota was forwarded a photo of two Rockstar cheerleaders simulating a sex act in their team uniforms. He told Libit that he shared the photo with company executives, including his direct supervisor, John Newby.
The photo in question was recently provided to this news outlet…
According to Cota, the Varsity said it was “dealing with the issue” but had no financial incentive to take strong action.
Varsity issued a written statement to Libit saying Cota’s allegations were “substantiated.”
“USASF notified Mr. Foster that he was found guilty of violating several provisions of its Code of Conduct in January 2018,” Varsity spokeswoman Susan Crumpton said in a statement. “It is extremely important to remember that there were no allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse at this time, so the suspension and enforcement actions were appropriate given the nature of Mr. Foster’s known violations at the time.”
Wait… no allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse were filed at the time?
“That’s a bald-faced lie!” said one Rockstar parent who spoke to FITSNews on condition of anonymity. According to this parent, they reported the allegations (sexual misconduct and abuse) against Foster in 2017.
Another parent confirmed that she reported similar allegations to Varsity in late 2017, but said the female staff member who made the complaint “never followed up” on the material presented to her.
Additionally, there are questions about whether the so-called suspension and enforcement measures imposed on Foster for his 2017 USASF violations were ever actually enforced.
Foster was to be “ineligible” to compete in USASF-sanctioned events for three consecutive seasons, from 2017-2018 to 2019-2020. But this judgment appears to be a “suspension in name only.”
For example, here’s a picture of Foster with a VIP pass at the 2020 National Cheerleading…
This news outlet has been provided with numerous additional photos of Foster (above) with cheerleaders at various regional and national competitions during the three-year period she was supposed to be suspended.
“He was in the gym doing warm-ups,” one Rockstar parent told me on condition of anonymity.
“It was a joke,” another Rockstar parent told me, referring to Foster’s USASF suspension. “The other coaches caught him during the warm-ups! They complained and nothing was done.
The federal lawsuit specifically addressed the alleged lax enforcement of Foster’s so-called suspension.
“Despite his ban, Foster was allowed to participate in the defendants’ university competitions and continued to train at his gym, even though the ban should have prevented him from doing so,” it said.
What led to Foster’s suspension? According to our sources, one of the most incriminating pieces of evidence against him was a cell phone video of him and another coach watching underage cheerleaders pass out what appeared to be alcohol from a funnel. Foster even appeared to film one underage cheerleader as she passed out the alcohol.
Foster publicly addressed the allegations, saying she “thought it was a prank and that (the cheerleaders) were using non-alcoholic beverages. To see also : Who stood out in the Falcons’ preseason finale against the Jaguars.”
“I was disappointed in them and myself about this situation,” Foster wrote. “I did not offer alcohol to anyone present nor did I want to, but I was naive and had a clear lack of judgment.”
Foster concluded by stating that “in my twenty-one years as a coach, my integrity and commitment to our athletes has never been questioned” and pledged to “remain committed to these athletes and to you, their parents, and to the management of Rockstar Cheer and Dance. The highest level of integrity .”
Foster died by suicide on August 22, 2022. At the time of his death, he was the focus of several investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct. This investigation is ongoing and is being led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Special Investigations Unit (HSI) with support from the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office.
As I’ve noted from the beginning of this story, the Rockstar scandal involves “allegations of systemic corruption and cover-ups that may involve some of the most visible and respected institutions in the entertainment industry.”
Since Foster’s suicide and subsequent allegations were revealed, several gyms have changed their names, quietly let go of key players, issued factually challenged “cover your ass” statements and asked parents to sign tough new athlete membership contracts. ”, which contain exhaustive, tightly worded disclaimers.
“They’re going to preemptively silence us,” one parent who received these settlements told me last week.
“We’re not going quietly,” one Rockstar parent assured me. “And we’re not going away. It’s going to be a big national scandal when we’re done.
As I’ve noted before, the victims/survivors of this saga have been emboldened – and are beginning to tell their stories to our researcher, Jenn Wood, a gleeful mother who has made it her life’s mission to hold the glee industry accountable for its role. played a role in enabling this scandal.
Which reminds me… anyone with information to share is encouraged to contact Wood at email@example.com or use our tips. However you choose to contact us, this news outlet honors submissions’ requests for anonymity — and as I’ve proven in the past, I’ll go to jail before breaching confidentiality.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founder of the news outlet you read now. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the Governor of South Carolina. Read also : Meet the richest NFL cheerleaders of all time including a former 49er worth $50 …. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has a LOT of hats (including the Boston Red Sox cap above).
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