The Washington Football Team has decided to forgo cheerleaders next year in favor of a co-ed dance team.
The team announced the decision Wednesday. Petra Pope, who has reinvented in-game and sideline entertainment for the NBA, will take the helm of Washington’s dance team.
"We want to be more inclusive, so we are going to invite a coed entity [to audition]," Pope told USA Today. "We’re able to do more things with the strength of a male, and lifts, so that’s changed a great deal. The inclusivity, strength and interest of choreography has changed."
Pope said that all of Washington’s cheerleader contracts have expired but those women are eligible to audition for the dance team.
The decision comes after 40 women came forward with accusations of sexual harassment within the Washington organization.
Some of those women were members of the 2008 and 2010 cheerleading squads. They claimed club employees created videos of outtakes from calendar shoots when the women weren’t fully dressed.
Cindy Minniti, an attorney representing the team and owner Daniel Snyder, told USA Today Sports the matter "has been resolved."
Pope said members of the dance team will not be expected to participate in any calendar shoots.
"At this point, as we re-imagine what this looks like, that’s not in the plans," she said. “We’re going to move forward to a more modern entity, and that more than likely will not be a part of it.
"Right now we’re thinking modern, modern franchise. A calendar is not a part of that process."