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Cowboys’ Cheerleaders Quit Over New Owner’s Rules; He Denies Changes

June 23, 1989

DALLAS (AP) _ Fourteen members of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders say they are quitting the squad because new owner Jerry Jones wants them to wear skimpier uniforms, fraternize with the players and appear in beer commercials.

Jones denied that he wanted to make such changes.

″When (quarterback) Roger Staubach went out, he went out on top. They have retired. I’m resigning,″ cheerleader director Debbie Bond, 36, said today.

In addition to Ms. Bond, all 14 veteran cheerleaders have said they will leave the team because of the dispute over the costumes, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The 23 rookie members have until Monday to decide if they will stay with the squad, which has been training in summer camp since May 6.

In an early afternoon news conference at the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch headquarters, Jones said the rule remains in effect calling for cheerleaders not to fraternize with players or employees.

″Those policies are intact. They are a very valuable and time-tested procedure,″ Jones said.

He said he likes the traditional uniform of the cheerleaders and did not plan to change it. ″It seems as though a lot of that was said in the meeting was speculation,″ he said.

Ms. Bond, who has been with the organization for 10 years, said earlier that she talked with Jones on Thursday after hearing that the Arkansas oilman had told the players there would be fraternization between the players and cheerleaders.

″He said, ’You can either accept it or move on,‴ Ms. Bond said. ″Mr. Jones does not believe in rules.″

Jones fired Tom Landry, the only head coach in the team’s history, on the same day he purchased the team. The Landry firing angered Dallas fans, who turned out by the thousands later when the city held a parade and ceremony in Landry’s honor.

Under former owner H.R. ″Bum″ Bright, the cheerleaders were not allowed to drink or even be photographed with someone holding a drink while they were wearing their uniforms.

Twiggy Isip, 21, a two-year veteran of the squad, said Jones ″wanted to change the uniform, and do you know what he wanted? Biker shorts and a halter top. He wants us to play hostess at parties and fraternize with the team. We’ve never done that.″

″The worst thing is - he wants us to be in beer commercials,″ she said. ″We’ve never even been able to to have a drink in our hand.″

The current cheerleader uniform is shorts, long-sleeved blue shirts tied in the front to leave the midriff partially bare, a fringed bolero-type vest, and white boots. Biker shorts are made of an elastic material that molds to the body, while a halter top leaves the arms and back mostly bare.

The squad that has cheered on what was once America’s Team set the standards for NFL cheerleaders beginning with Super Bowl X in 1976 when a cheerleader winked into a camera and captured the attention of the nation, Ms. Bond said.

They had their first open auditions in the spring of 1976, and cheerleaders now work for $15 a game - $13.94 after taxes, said Suzanne Mitchell, who founded the squad at former president and general manager Tex Schramm’s suggestion.

Ms. Mitchell resigned after 15 years with the Cowboys when Jones bought the team in February. She has joined Schramm at the Worldwide League of American Football.

″I’m the one who established all those rules in the first place,″ Ms. Mitchell said today. ″It separated the Cowboys Cheerleaders from everybody else.″ Ms. Mitchell said the line between the players and the cheerleaders was important to maintain respect for the performers.

Ms. Mitchell said the squad did more than dance routines and shake pompons, including making 18 Department of Defense tours, visiting nursing homes and children’s hospitals, and performing on telethons to raise millions of dollars for charity.

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