Grounded for more than a decade, spirit squad members at the University of Nebraska will take flight again next season.
In a Friday news release, Nebraska Athletics announced the reinstatement of basic stunting and tumbling to regular routines.
The Husker spirit squad will also once again recruit male cheerleaders to join the squad, with spots for up to four men beginning this fall. Most cheer programs in the Big Ten Conference feature both male and female cheerleaders, the news release said.
“Since I arrived at Nebraska nearly 18 months ago, I have consistently heard from fans and our cheer squad alumni about the importance of allowing our spirit squad to add more elements to their routines,” Athletic Director Bill Moos said. “Our first priority is the safety of our spirit squad members, and our staff has worked diligently on a plan to reintroduce stunting and tumbling, with safety at the forefront.”
Nebraska’s new policy will allow tumbling and basic stunting, but will not allow basket tosses and multi-level pyramids. NU will employ a phased approach to the introduction of skills and has selected stunting and tumbling skills that are regularly performed safely and effectively by cheer squads around the United States.
The athletic department will also take additional steps to mitigate safety risks associated with cheerleading. The department said it will devote a full-time athletic trainer to the spirit squad and will provide enhanced support in the areas of strength and conditioning and performance nutrition.
The Husker spirit squad last featured stunting and tumbling in the spring of 2007. Restrictions were first placed on the squad in 2002 after a cheerleader was injured while attempting a flip in 1996.
Tracy Jensen suffered a broken neck in practice and later filed a negligence lawsuit against the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. She and the school reached a $2.1 million settlement before an April 2001 trial date.
Then in a Nebraska Supreme Court case in 2004, the court rejected arguments from North American Specialty Insurance Co. that Jensen would be receiving a "double recovery" if she were allowed to simultaneously draw on the insurance money and the settlement money she got from the university.