Ole Miss officials apologize for slurs by athletes during play

Oct. 4, 2013 at 12:52 PM   |   Comments

OXFORD, Miss., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- University of Mississippi officials have apologized for slurs from students in the audience during performance of a play dealing with the death of a gay man.

Officials believe the harassing comments about homosexuality and weight were made by freshman athletes attending a university production of "The Laramie Project," USA Today reported Thursday.

The play concerns the murder of Matthew Shepard, who was killed in 1998 because of his sexual orientation.

Chancellor Dan Jones and Athletics Director Ross Bjork said in statement Thursday they "strongly condemn" the student's behavior.

"As a member of the Ole Miss family, each of us has a responsibility to be accountable for our actions, and these individuals will be held accountable," they said.

Jones and Bjork said they planned to meet freshman student athletes about "our university-wide commitment to inclusivity and civility."

Michael Barnett, assistant chair of theater arts at the school, said the theater's house manager identified the students as athletes.

The students heckled some female members of the cast about their body size, Barnett said, and other comments were made using the terms "fag" or "faggot."

Other members of the audience then followed suit, he added.

The student newspaper said the football players later apologized at the request of the athletic department.

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