University, MS, United States (4E Sports) – The University of Mississippi is looking into report that several Ole Miss football players disrupted a university theater production of “The Laramie Project” and harassed actors with hate speech on campus Tuesday.
According to Ole Miss Dean of Students Thomas J. “Sparky” Reardon, the university’s Bias Incident Response Team met “to delve into what happened and to look if there are any possible charges there.”
“They’ll make any recommendations there to us, to me, at the university, and we’ll move from there,” Reardon said. “I’ve been in touch with the theater department and the athletic department, and we’re waiting on their report.”
Reardon said he had spoken to someone in the athletic department but not head football coach Hugh Freeze, who wrote on Twitter: “We certainly do not condone any actions that offend or hurt people in any way. We are working with all departments involved to find the facts”.
Chancellor Dan Jones and athletic director Ross Bjork issued a joint statement Wednesday regarding the incident.
“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,” the statement read.
“Our investigation will determine the degree to which any and all students were involved. … On behalf of our 22,000 students, our faculty, and our staff, we apologize,” they added.
The Daily Mississippian reported that approximately 20 Ole Miss football players were among the disruptive audience during the play based on the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.
Play director and faculty member Rory Ledbetter told the student newspaper that members of the audience were using homosexual slurs and insulted the body types and sexual orientation of cast members.
“The football players were certainly not the only audience members that were being offensive last night,” Ledbetter said. “But they were definitely the ones who seemed to initiate others in the audience to say things too.”