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Ole Miss AD feels confident his school would be ready for an openly gay player

Nick Bromberg
Dr. Saturday

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Since Missouri DE Michael Sam's Sunday announcement that he is gay, other football programs are being asked if they would be ready and able to handle the revelation like Missouri did.

Sam told his teammates in a preseason practice and was accepted and embraced by the entire program. Not a word was said about it publicly until Sam's decision to talk over the weekend.

“To say that are we ready? We don’t know,” Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork told the Clarion Ledger. “We haven’t had anybody approach us. But I feel confident in who we are as coaches and as administrators and as a campus. We would want someone to feel welcome and free, and to be who they are.”

Ole Miss is a great example after the incident that happened in October. Students, including football players, disrupted a performance of "The Laramie Project" with heckling and homophobic remarks. The play documents the aftermath of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming.

A university investigation determined that it was unable to identify who said any homophobic slurs.

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said he's knowingly coached gay players before.

“Certainly don’t want to call any names, because everybody is entitled to their privacy unless they want it to be public,” Freeze said. “I guarantee in both cases they knew the coaching staff loved them and respected them.”

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen also told the Clarion-Ledger that he hadn't, but referenced statistical probability.“Chances are, there’s a guy that is gay on every team,” Mullen said. “It’s not that big of a deal. Statistically speaking probably more than one.”

Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins was proud of what Sam had done. Like Sam, Watkins is eligible for the 2014 NFL draft.

“I think that he is very brave,” Watkins told GoGamecocks.com. “I can’t judge him. I commend him on coming out. That definitely was a man move. A lot of people wouldn’t do that.”

However, like with the reactions at the play, there could be some negativity at other schools, at least at first. South Carolina's Victor Hamption was supportive of Sam, but mentioned that not everyone could be on board if more players follow Sam's lead.

“I’m sure it’s tough, being in a football locker room not knowing how they are going to perceive you,” Hampton said. “Let’s face it, some guys are so naïve that when they find out a guy is gay, they are not dealing with it.”

Like Mississippi State TE Rufus Warren.

Warren later apologized for his tweet. (His tweets are protected.)

It was a similar reaction to South Florida commit Vincent Jackson Jr., who was recruited by Missouri before committing to the Bulls. Jackson deleted the tweet, subsequently apologized and protected his Twitter account as well.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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