Cheerleader kicked off squad for comments
By Stephanie Taylor
November 25, 2003
The University of Alabama cheerleader who invoked indignation from Crimson Tide fans
when he uttered “War Eagle" on ESPN during Saturday’s Iron Bowl game now has nothing
to cheer about.
He has been cut from the Crimson Tide squad.
As a first-year member of the cheerleading unit, Christopher Bailey, 23, was not
eligible to travel to Hawaii for this week’s game. But now he will not be allowed to
cheer for Tide athletics during the spring semester either.
The decision was made at a meeting between UA’s Director of Athletics Mal Moore,
cheerleading coordinator Debbie Greenwell and Bailey.
The meeting was scheduled after Bailey was interviewed on the sidelines by ESPN’s
Adrian Karsten during Saturday’s Iron Bowl game. During the interview, Karsten
elicited both a War Eagle and a Roll Tide from the former Auburn cheerleader.
The interview sent Tide and Auburn Internet message boards buzzing with some hailing
Bailey and other significantly less positive.
Bailey cheered at Auburn for three years and was the head cheerleader there during the
2002-03 football season.
He transferred to Alabama this year to pursue an accounting degree and to be closer to
his longtime girlfriend, he said Saturday. Last week he told Auburn’s student
newspaper that he wanted to cheer on a squad such as Alabama’s, which competes in
The Auburn Plainsman quoted Bailey in a Saturday story as saying that he transferred
to UA after working for the past three summers at Universal Cheerleading Association’s
camps in Tuscaloosa.
“My heart is still at Auburn," he told The Plainsman. “I came [to UA] to cheer
Alabama fan Pat Taylor of Birmingham said that Bailey should not be allowed to cheer
for the Tide after saying what he did.
“To me, when you cheer for Alabama, you should be honored to cheer for the University
of Alabama, and your heart should be in Alabama, not Auburn," she said. “There are too
many other young men and women who would be proud to cheer for Alabama. They should be
the ones cheering, not him."
Bailey could not be reached for comment Monday.
His mother Cel Bailey of Homewood said that her son was taken off guard by the
reaction to his interviews.
“He got himself in a jam. He didn’t really say what he meant to say," she said. “I
guess he learned a life lesson here."
She said the reason her son chose to transfer from Auburn was because the cheerleading
squad there does not participate in competitions.
“He wanted to cheer competitively, and he didn’t want to give that dream up. I guess
it’s a dream he won’t be able to realize," she said.
“He felt like Alabama had one of the best squads. They’re recognized as athletes at
Alabama. He is loyal to the school, and that’s where he wanted to be."
As a cheerleader, Bailey had a partial scholarship, his mother said.
UA athletics department spokesman Larry White said that many fans have sent angry
e-mails to his office about Bailey’s comments. White responded with a letter from Mal
Moore, which he distributed Monday.
“Christopher expressed his deep regret for the remarks he made during Saturday night’s
Alabama-Auburn football game. He is a very sincere young man, and I believe he has
learned a valuable lesson in dealing with today’s media," the letter quoted Moore as
“As a first-year cheerleader, Christopher was not eligible to make the trip to Hawaii,
and he will not participate as an Alabama cheerleader during the spring semester."
Cheerleading coordinator Greenwell did not return a phone call placed to the
cheerleading office Monday.
She told the Plainsman that the Alabama cheerleaders had encouraged Bailey to transfer
here after they became friends at the cheerleading camps. She said that the squads do
not have a rivalry and that the UA squad does not try to recruit from other schools.
The AU student paper reported that Bailey had attended Auburn for four years before he
made the decision to transfer to Tuscaloosa. He is a senior, his mother said, and
expects to graduate in May 2005.
Reach Stephanie Taylor at 722-0210 or [EMAIL PROTECTED]
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