Ole Miss football players who allegedly disrupted a campus theater performance will be required to attend an "educational dialogue" session led by the school, Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson [Miss.] Clarion-Ledger reports.
The Daily Mississippian, the Ole Miss student newspaper, first reported on Thursday that several football players attending a student performance of "The Laramie Project" heckled the performers with homosexual slurs and inappropriate language. The play tells the story of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay University of Wyoming student who was killed in 1998 due to his sexual orientation.
According to the student newspaper, many of the players were in attendance as a requirement for a freshman-level theater course. Reports indicated that players were “taking pictures of cast members while making fun of them, talking on their cell phones, hollering at the females in the cast and talking to other audience members during the acts.”
The Ole Miss athletic department forced the players to apologize to the student performers, and Ole Miss chancellor Dan Jones and athletic director Ross Bjork also issued a statement Thursday afternoon condemning the behavior and confirming an investigation into the actions.
The school released another statement to USA Today on Friday, describing the difficulty in pinpointing those responsible:
"The task of identifying specific individuals who were purported to have disrupted the performance is difficult because of the dark theatre, and initial reports vary in regard to the frequency, volume and source of the comments or disruption. 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."