Florida cheerleading grounded by school

Updated Monday, Nov. 11 at 3 p.m.

Florida Gators fans may notice cheerleaders waving their pom poms and shouting through megaphones during Saturday’s game against Jacksonville State but what they won’t see is them tumbling on the ground or being held or tossed high in the air due to a decision made by the school’s administration on Friday.

A handful of Florida cheerleaders took to Twitter on Friday evening to express their outrage after learning that the school’s marketing department will no longer allow them to stunt or tumble, effectively grounding them during all games, events and practices.

“If you’re wondering why the cheerleaders aren’t doing any thing at the games ask the UF marketing department. This is not fair,” wrote four-year cheerleader and senior captain Tarin Moses.

“This is unreal. This is unreal. This is not happening. This did not just happen,” added senior Morgan Palmer. “We know what we do is risky and that there is a ‘one in a million chance we might get hurt’ but that’s why we practice. #UngroundUFCheer”

“UF cheerleaders are no longer allowed to stunt and tumble..first we aren’t a real sport now we are too dangerous? #what #UngroundUFCheer,” wrote junior Elizabeth Garcia.

“It’s a sad day in UF cheer history that we will no longer have the privilege to perform stunts and tumbling for Gator fans #ungroundUFcheer,” concurred sophomore Haley Violetta.

The school, via senior associate athletics director Steve McClain, released a statement on Monday, Nov. 11, which read in part:

“Instead of waiting for a tragedy to occur, we are taking a proactive stance to protect the cheerleaders, who represent the University of Florida with enthusiasm and class, and allow them to lead cheers at Gator games for years to come. […]

“We understand that the modern day culture of cheerleading encourages acrobatic stunts which require tremendous athletic skill. The reality, however, is that the danger associated with these types of stunts is simply not worth the risk to the cheerleaders or to the University of Florida.”

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Trio of Gators – Murphy, Prather, Adams – injured

Three Florida Gators student-athletes – two basketball players and one cheerleader – have suffered or aggravated injuries over the last two days.

Junior forward Erik Murphy was forced to miss Friday’s 107-62 blowout victory over Jacksonville after injuring his right knee during practice Thursday. He went to the hospital for an evaluation, but head coach Billy Donovan said the seriousness of the injury remains unknown. Trainers have ruled out an injury to Murphy’s anterior cruciate ligament and expect him to return this season.

“He kind of banged knees with somebody in practice. It was kind of a fluke play,” Donovan said. “It wasn’t anything that prevented him from [finishing] practicing. It happened early in practice, and he didn’t even remember it. He finished up practice last night. With it being Thanksgiving, I had the guys at the house yesterday. He was really complaining that his knee was really bothering him. It continued to swell. With it being Thanksgiving, it makes it difficult to get MRIs and X-rays at 8:00 at night.

“There is a concern right now because he’s had a very difficult time walking. He can’t put any pressure on it.”

Playing one of the best games of his career Friday, sophomore guard/forward Casey Prather saw extensive time in the first half but did not return to the court coming out of the locker rooms after reinjuring a sore groin muscle that had previously been been bothering him. He finished with six points, three rebounds and two steals.

“He slipped in practice yesterday and he kind of tweaked his groin,” Donovan explained. “It was bothering him a little bit in shoot around, but he was able to go tonight and then he tweaked it again.”

The Gators will further evaluate Prather over the weekend and determine whether or not he will be able to participate against Stetson on Monday.

While Florida was upending Jacksonville on the court, a Gators cheerleader was hurt on the side. Senior Laura Adams, a second-year member of the squad and a physical therapy major, tore her Achilles tendon while tumbling and was helped off by teammates.

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