The Ohio State spirit squad has a new head coach — and he’s a former Buckeye.
More than four months after former head cheerleading coach Lenee Buchman — who had been in the position since July 2009 — was terminated “for cause” following a sexual harassment investigation involving her assistant coaches and athletes, OSU announced Ben Schreiber as the squad’s new head coach in a press release Monday.
Schreiber, who cheered at OSU from 2004-07, replaces interim coach Steve Chorba, who took over for Buchman Nov. 25, the day she was fired.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to return to my alma mater and be at the helm of the spirit program, specifically as the head cheerleading coach,” Schreiber said in a released statement. “I look forward to working with each student-athlete and helping them achieve their goals and dreams as I am blessed to live out my own.”
Schreiber spent the past five years as the head cheerleading coach and fitness coordinator at the University of Delaware.
Schreiber led the Blue Hens to the 2014 UCA Division I Large Coed National Championship, while the team finished as national runners-up from 2010-13, according to the release. He said he looks to establish that kind of success at OSU.
“My desire is to continue to build on the traditions of the program and develop new, cutting-edge concepts to help distinguish this program from others,” Schreiber said.
Schreiber is set to earn a base salary of $43,000, OSU spokesman Adam Widman told The Lantern in an email. Chorba earned $37,000 as interim head coach, while Buchman earned $43,003 after receiving a raise Aug. 23.
After becoming the spirit coordinator at Delaware in 2011, Schreiber expanded the cheer program by adding an all-female team, according to the release. In that role, he also oversaw the cheer and dance programs and took on marketing responsibilities for the athletics and recreation services department.
“Ben has all the qualities we were looking for in our next head coach,” Martin Jarmond, OSU executive associate athletics director for administration and the cheer program’s administrator, said in the release. “His experience and success as a head coach and his passion for Ohio State and developing student-athletes holistically make him a perfect fit to lead our spirit program.”
Widman said aside from hiring Schreiber, decisions on what the rest of the cheer staff will look like — including whether or not Chorba is to be retained — are forthcoming.
“Our spirit squad coaches do not have employment contracts and no staff decisions have been made at this point,” Widman wrote in the email.
Schreiber’s predecessor, Chorba, was appointed to interim head coach from assistant cheerleading coach after Buchman was found to have demonstrated a lack of “leadership and courage” by OSU Director of Athletics and Vice President Gene Smith while she was coach of the squad.
In an email obtained by The Lantern, Smith told Buchman she was terminated for “several serious lapses of judgment and leadership.” An October report by the OSU Office of Human Resources found those lapses occurred after former cheerleader Cody Ellis’ attorney said he was kicked off the team by Buchman for reporting he was sexually harassed by two former coaches, Dana Bumbrey and Eddie Hollins.
Bumbrey and Hollins were terminated in May following an OSU investigation, which found “sufficient evidence” both had violated the school’s Sexual Harassment Policy. That policy defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances” and “requests for sexual favors,” among other things.
Although he was terminated in May, Bumbrey hosted a cheer camp in August that Buchman took her team to participate in — more than two months after he was let go.
“Though I know that the camp was not run by Ohio State, you took our students and brand there with you,” Smith said in the email to Buchman. “All the while, you knew the nature of the behavior Mr. Bumbrey had been engaged in, that Ohio State dismissed him just a few months earlier and that the university had emphatically chosen to disassociate itself from him and his damaging behavior.”
The report also found that even though Hollins showed up uninvited to a practice Sept. 9, Buchman did not tell him to leave.
“When an assistant that had been fired for sexual harassment shows up at a team practice, it is obvious what is expected of a head coach,” Smith wrote in the email.
In an interview with The Lantern Jan. 29, Smith did not offer any further explanation for the investigation or events that transpired after it when asked.
“I’m not going to get into a personnel issue,” Smith said. “It was a personnel issue, there are legal issues around it, so I’m not discussing it.”