The president of the board of directors of the U.S. All Star Federation (USASF) – one of the so-called “oversight” agencies under the microscope in the Cheer Incorporated sex abuse scandal – passed away on Sunday evening.
According to a GoFundMe page created earlier this month by a friend of her family, USASF board president Kathy Penree “suffered a heart attack” on September 30, 2022 – a little over a month after her agency became embroiled in this still-unfolding scandal.
Penree, 59, was said to have been in stable condition following her heart attack – but shortly thereafter experienced another “unexpected” medical emergency.
“Unexpectedly, another medical emergency then occurred,” the page’s organizer noted. “Kathy suffered a severe brain bleed and was transported to Albany Medical where she had emergency brain surgery.”
On Monday morning, Penree’s daughter – Jennifer Penree – announced that her “beautiful mother passed away last night.”
“We are absolutely crushed and heartbroken,” Jennifer Penree wrote. “She fought so hard; and I will share that story with everyone.”
USASF purports to uphold “fair and consistent rules and competition standards” in the cheer industry and prides itself on “providing the safest possible environment for cheer and dance athletes to train and compete.”
As this news outlet has previously reported, however, USASF’s policies and practices related to allegations of sexual abuse – and its enforcement of punishments for cheer coaches who violate its rules – appear to be riddled with loopholes.
USASF is charged with keeping track of those within the cheer industry who are charged with (or convicted of) crimes or who engage in “any conduct inconsistent with USA Cheer rules, policies or standards” or “any action of misconduct … determined to not serve the (sport’s) best interests.”
Such broad enforcement language gives USASF and USA Cheer wide latitude when it comes to holding coaches and other industry professionals accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, neither entity appears to be even remotely interested in exercising this accountability.
Accordingly, USASF – which was founded, funded and is purportedly controlled by the Tennessee-based Varsity corporation – has been named as a defendant in five federal lawsuits related to the Cheer Incorporated scandal.
Defenders of Penree wasted no time in defending her against any implication of impropriety.
“Kathy Penree stepped into this position AFTER the damage was already done,” one of those defenders tweeted. “She was a leader and light of our industry. She always wanted the best for the athletes and coaches. She was a WONDERFUL human being and role model for our industry!”
Another source close to the situation concurred with that assessment, saying Penree inherited a “disaster” from former USASF president Jim Chadwick.
“Anybody who knew Kathy knew her goals from the moment she first became involved in the USASF was to change the sport to better protect, guide, and support athletes and make a difference in the sport,” the source told me. “In April of 2021, Jim Chadwick retired as the President and Kathy took on the interim role and this year took on the role as her own. Anybody who has worked with Kathy knows her dedication to the safety and well-being of athletes at her own gym and within the sport.”
“While I completely agree the USASF as a whole is a disaster, we need to recognize there are some individuals who are attempting to fight the uphill battle to do the right thing,” the source added.
This is a developing story … please check back for updates.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has many hats – including that Chicago Blackhawks’ lid pictured above.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to address proactively? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.
SIGN UP …
SIGN UP …