Suzy Thompson and Shannon Fry, Mizzou’s coaches for the cheerleading team and Golden Girls dance squad for more than 20 years, respectively, were fired Thursday as part of a restructuring plan, MU and Thompson confirmed.
“The Athletics Department has spent the past two years evaluating its spirit groups, and in order to increase efficiencies while presenting a unified and cohesive program in support of its teams, has elected to merge the Golden Girls and Cheer programs under the leadership of one individual who will be supported by two assistant directors effective July 1, 2019,” MU said in a statement from deputy athletics director Nick Joos. “This structure is standard at many Power Five institutions nationally and we believe this will not only enhance the experience of the participants, but will also improve the game-day presentation for our teams and fans.”
Both Thompson and Fry will have the opportunity to apply for the new coaching position, but going forward only one person will oversee both teams.
Thompson, a staple on the Mizzou sidelines the last two decades, had coached the MU cheerleading teams since 1993 and served as the school’s mascot coordinator since 2003. A breast cancer survivor, Thompson was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. Under her watch, Mizzou won the national cheerleading competition in 1996-97.
Reached on Thursday via email, Thompson said she was "at a loss for words and very devastated" by MU's decision. “I have given 26 years to Mizzou, working all those years as part time with no benefits. I am truly sad,” she said. "I love my kids (cheerleaders and Trumans) and I loved my job."
Fry, a member of the Golden Girls from 1990-94, took over as the group’s coach in 1997.