UofL cheerleaders not included in randomized drug testing
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's been a tragic week for the University of Louisville community as police investigate the death of a cheerleader from a suspected drug overdose.
On the morning of July 28, someone found Danielle Cogswell, 22, dead in the Cardinal Towne apartment complex, according to LMPD spokesman Dwight Mitchell. Police are waiting for toxicology tests to determine what substances, if any, were in Cogswell's body. WAVE 3 News discovered cheerleaders are not subject to the university's drug testing policy because it's not an NCAA sponsored sport.
"Since they're not subject to NCAA testing, we have not included them traditionally in the student athlete testing that we do," Student Life Associate Athletic Director Christine Simatacolos said.
Instead, cheerleaders are spirit team members. They're included in the same group as dance squads. However, cheerleaders have access to the treatment and counseling programs offered to athletes. They also go through an annual orientation that includes drug and alcohol education.
"Cheerleading and spirit groups take part in the majority of our benefits and services that we have and we do treat them like student athletes here at the university," Simatacolos said.
When Cogswell passed away, Christy Campbell couldn't help but think about when she was on the UofL cheerleader squad.
"It was the best time of my life," said Campbell, who cheered on the squad for three years. "It was an experience I wouldn't trade in for anything because it's a family. That team is your foundation. And not knowing the circumstances at all, my heart breaks for her, her family and her UofL family."
Campbell never knew Cogswell and she isn't placing blame or judging, but she doesn't understand why UofL cheerleaders aren't subjected to drug testing like the athletes they're cheering on.
"They're wearing a uniform representing the university," Campbell said. "They're dedicating countless hours. And they compete all year long. Why not go ahead and uphold them to the highest standards just like every athlete."
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