Sanctions against Towson cheerleaders reduced

Towson University's championship cheerleading team will be allowed to practice but not perform after an appeals committee decided to significantly reduce the sanctions over an alleged hazing incident, school officials said Tuesday.

Towson University's Student Appeals Committee put members of this year's cheerleading team on "social probation," saying that the team will not be allowed to perform or appear at any university or off-campus event, including athletic competitions. The sanction applies only for the fall semester. The team is also required to complete 650 hours of community service by the end of the semester.

The action eases the punishment given to the team last month, when it was suspended for the 2013-2014 academic year by the Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education, which investigated the hazing allegations.

Officials have not released any details about what the cheerleaders are accused of doing.

Team members appealed the suspension, leading the committee of four faculty members, two staff members and two students to review the case Friday and modify the sanctions. School officials said new members of the team are not required to participate in community service, but the entire team will be required to participate in special educational sessions outlined by the university.

The cheerleading team can make a final appeal to the university president before Sept. 17, school officials said.

Many schools have adopted a zero-tolerance approach to hazing in the aftermath of several violent incidents, including the fatal hazing of a drum major at Florida A&M; University in 2011. But cheerleading officials have said suspending an entire team is unusual in the sport.

In April, the Towson Tigers squad won the All Girl Division 1 category of the National Cheerleaders Association's Collegiate Cheerleading Championship.

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