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Ole Miss: No evidence players used gay slurs

The SportsXchange

University of Mississippi officials found no evidence Friday that any football players used homophobic slurs during a school play based on the death of a gay University of Wyoming student.

The school investigated an incident in which 25 freshman players who attended the performance of "The Laramie Project" on Tuesday night as part of a class requirement were accused of heckling the performers with anti-gay slurs.

However, because of what the school's Bias Incident Response Team called "conflicting reports" about the incident, every student and student-athlete who attended the play is required to attend an educational dialogue session.

"The task of identifying specific individuals who were purported to have disrupted the performance is difficult because of the dark theater, and initial reports vary in regard to the frequency, volume and source of the comments or disruption," the response team said in a statement. "Although initial reports indicate that student-athletes led the action, it is important to note that this has not been verified and they were not the only students present. Reports indicate that comments were made by student athletes and students but no report has singled out a specific student or mentioned any names."

The Daily Mississippian, the university's student newspaper, first reported the incident.

Play director and faculty member Rory Ledbetter told the newspaper that members of the audience were using homosexual slurs and insulting the body types and sexual orientation of cast members.

The newspaper also reported that Ledbetter said a member of the athletic department emailed him apologizing for the incident.

Ole Miss theater department chairwoman Rene Pulliam said the players were asked to apologize by the athletic department as well.

Athletic director Ross Bjork told ESPN.com on Friday evening that he does not expect any players to be punished unless new evidence is found.
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