Originally published November 22, 2016 at 09:47a.m., updated November 22, 2016 at 05:37p.m.

KU suspends cheerleaders from squad after ‘Kkk go trump’ social media post

Student denies that she posted the Snapchat photo

Tweets from the official University of Kansas and KU Athletics Twitter accounts are shown from Nov. 21, 2016. A KU cheerleader has been suspended from cheering after a photo was posted on her Snapchat account linking the Ku Klux Klan with President-elect Donald Trump.

Tweets from the official University of Kansas and KU Athletics Twitter accounts are shown from Nov. 21, 2016. A KU cheerleader has been suspended from cheering after a photo was posted on her Snapchat account linking the Ku Klux Klan with President-elect Donald Trump.


The University of Kansas has suspended four cheerleaders from the squad after a photo with the words “Kkk go trump” was shared on a Snapchat account belonging to one of them.

The female cheerleader whose account the photo appeared on denied that she posted it. KU officials said she and three male cheerleaders in the picture were suspended from performing pending further investigation.

The Snapchat photo shows three men standing next to one another wearing matching red and blue KU holiday sweaters with the letter “K” for Kansas on the front. The Snapchat social media app allows users to add text to photos, and on the photo is written “Kkk go trump.”


This screenshot shows a message sent out on the Snapchat account of a University of Kansas cheerleader. KU officials have suspended that cheerleader, a female student, as well as the three men in the photo, who are also cheerleaders. This screenshot has been brightened to show additional detail.

The female cheerleader was suspended from the cheer squad Tuesday night during the KU men’s basketball game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham, played at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., said Jim Marchiony, KU associate athletic director for public affairs.

She was not cheering at that game, Marchiony said, but that’s when the image came to the attention of KU Athletics via social media and a number of Twitter users shared and commented online.

The woman told KU Athletics officials Tuesday morning that someone else took her phone at a party Saturday night and posted the Snapchat message, Marchiony said. She “adamantly denies posting it” and said she’d left her phone unlocked, Marchiony said.

The three men pictured, also cheerleaders, were suspended from the squad later Tuesday morning, Marchiony said. He said additional discussion and a “desire to treat everyone involved the same” led to their suspensions.

Marchiony said KU Athletics had spoken with all four cheerleaders and communicated with KU’s Office of Student Affairs, which plans to talk to the students as well. Student Affairs is charged with investigating reported violations of the KU student code, including discrimination and harassment.

“We have included the university on this every step of the way,” Marchiony said. “They knew step by step what was going on as soon as we found out about it. We are keeping them involved.”


KU Athletics

Lili Gagin

Cheerleaders are not scholarship athletes at KU but do fall within the purview of KU Athletics, Marchiony said.

Marchiony said KU Athletics’ discipline was based on a department rule addressing conduct expected from individuals representing athletics and the university.

The female cheerleader, whose name is on her Snapchat account, is Lili Gagin, listed on the KU Spirit Squads roster as a sophomore from Grayslake, Ill.

Monday night Gagin posted on her Twitter account, which describes her as a KU cheerleader, “I’m appalled that a snapchat was put out on my snapchat and posted on my account. I would never of done that & I apologize that it happened.”

KU Athletics did not release the names of the male cheerleaders or formally release Gagin’s name. Marchiony said she “identified herself” through social media posts.

Monday night KU Athletics shared a series of tweets containing Gagin’s name and tweeted about the Snapchat photo, “Unacceptable. She is suspended from cheering pending formal investigation. This behavior won’t be tolerated. Will be dealt w/ appropriately.” The university’s official Twitter account retweeted KU Athletics’ message, adding “There is no place for this in our community. These types of messages are unacceptable.”

Those tweets by KU Athletics and KU were both deleted Tuesday.

KU Athletics tweeted instead, and KU retweeted, “The four (one female, three male) individuals referenced in the recent Snapchat incident are suspended from performing and will remain suspended while Kansas Athletics and the University complete their inquiries into this incident.”


Damian Glaze 2 years, 5 months ago

I'm embarrassed as an alum. The explanation given is insufficient and not enough. Extremely disappointed.

Joyce Overeem 2 years, 5 months ago

As a former resident of Lawrence I am embarrassed but not surprised. I know how drunken frat boys and sorority girls talk. I'm not surprised.

Tim Nelson 2 years, 5 months ago

You're making a pretty harsh judgement on a young lady you don't know. I have actually met and talked to this young lady several times and found her to be quite intelligent. And having talked with her, I highly doubt she's the one that actually made the snap. I'm sure it was someone at a party thinking it would be funny without realizing the harm they were doing to this young lady. I have no proof either way. But I'm not condemning someone without at least giving them a chance to find out what happened.

Chris DeWeese 2 years, 5 months ago

...and of course you know that for a fact. What was I thinking?

Tommy Zebman 2 years, 5 months ago

Chris, what we do know for a fact is that we no nothing at all if she did this act. Very unlikely that someone with a well-known social profile would use their own cell phone. I would expect someone that has known her personally for years will step up and confirm if she has racist/KKK tendencies.

Joyce Overeem 2 years, 5 months ago

I am from there. I know how drunken frat boys and sorority girls from KU and KSU talk. I am not surprised but I am embarrassed.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 5 months ago

It's sad that so much of this is going on in general.

It is a weak excuse but a strong educational example of the dangers of e-communication. I wonder if there is some unpublicized precedence for the necessary discipline. This is political but it could be anything.

Tim Nelson 2 years, 5 months ago

They're following the same protocol they'd follow if it were an athlete. I remember my son in college had a friend get on his facebook and posted something that was intended as a joke but had several in the family freaking out not understanding the real situation. I can easily see the same thing happening here. In my son's case, he is a "nobody" so no one but family noticed. But these kids (and they are just kids) are in trouble and they may have done nothing more than pose for a pic for a friend

Micky Baker 2 years, 5 months ago

So the 3 guys wearing the shirts are implicated because they where a shirt with a K for Kansas on it? Really? Whomever put the message on there... maybe they're a leftist and was trying to get a rise? Just saying, Lawrence isn't a bastion of the conservative movement in any way. Just a dumb reaction without actually knowing anything. We know that there are a lot of left leaning students who would surely try to tie the 3 sweaters with the KKK in order to make it look like they're offended.

Kevin Studer 2 years, 5 months ago

I can't believe people as simple as you know how to operate a keyboard.

Carter Patterson 2 years, 5 months ago

Overkill. Period. There are a lot worse things that college kids can do and get away with.

Suspend the cheerleader for 2 weeks. The boys in the pic should never have been suspended.

KU deals with this crap so poorly. Its a stupid poorly thought out flippant act. There is no reason to create a mountain out of a molehill.

Brent Held 2 years, 5 months ago

the guys in the photo simply posed for a picture, how were they supposed to know the caption would be put on like that

Sehar Rana 2 years, 5 months ago

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Humpy Helsel 2 years, 5 months ago

Normally I request removal of these types of posts whenever I see them. For this sad story, it happens to be my favorite post. Good for you, Uncle Lucas. If you use it for Uber, I'd love to ride in it!

This site is one of my places of respit to escape the political insanity of the social media swirl around me. I hope we can keep it that way.

Joyce Overeem 2 years, 5 months ago

I am from there. In the 60s and 70s Lawrence KS had "whites only" public parks and pools. I know how drunken frat boys and sorority girls talk. They are as ugly as any white trash from southern hills and hollers in spite of their expensive university education. Not surprised but I am really sad. KU and Lawrence has good people there. These brats don't reflect the majority of people in Lawrence.

Janet Olin 2 years, 5 months ago

I agree that there is no room for hate at KU. I agree that the people involved have been suspended pending an investigation, and that the girl whose snapchat account was used to post photos is responsible for her phone and account. I hope people will wait to discuss penalties until the investigation is over and the facts are sorted out. When 4 or 5 people are involved, there may be different levels of responsibility, and I believe out of fairness we should wait until facts are sorted out to discuss the level and severity of penalties for those involved, hopefully on an individual basis.

Janet Olin 2 years, 5 months ago

It is possible that the girl who says somebody else posted the photos on her account is trying to dodge responsibility, or that she's telling the truth. I am not very computer savvy, but I hear it is easy to add captions to photos online (like you would do on a scrapbook page), in which remote case, the 3 guys could be standing together and somebody else adds the K. I hope that people wait until the investigators sort out the facts to make decisions of guilt/innocence. Only fair to hear both sides.Liberal means open to new data/facts and alternate ways of thinking.

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