A Division II basketball player is claiming that he was dismissed from the team last month after his head coach criticized his hairstyle.
Tyler Williams was dismissed from Arkansas-Fort Smith in August after he accused head coach Jim Boone of singling out people with dreadlocks, according to KATV. Williams claims that Boone specifically said he did not like his hair and that he would not recruit other players who had hair that looked like his.
Williams and his parents met with Boone on Aug. 16 about the issue, per the report, and secretly recorded the meeting. That meeting resulted in the senior guard being dismissed from the team.
“He told the coach repeatedly, ‘I wanna stay, I wanna play, I wanna stay,’ but the coach told him, ‘I think we’re off on the wrong foot and you’re no longer part of this program,’” Williams’ father, Reginald, told KATV.
Reginald also claimed that they’ve emailed the school, chancellor, vice-chancellor and president of systems at the university, and didn’t hear back for weeks.
University chancellor Terisa Riley issued a statement about the incident this week, and said they have launched an investigation.
“The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith will not tolerate racism or retaliation,” the statement read in part, via KATV. “We never want a student to leave the university feeling disrespected or devalued, and this situation serves as a powerful reminder that we must continually assess and work to create an inclusive environment that values all members of our community.”
Boone’s attorney released a statement on Tuesday night denying the accusations, saying that his “attitude about player’s hair styles is admittedly old-school, but it’s not discriminatory,” via 5NEWS.
Williams has since transferred schools, and is attending Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma.
"When you are in a coaching position you actually have the ability to teach, train, and development and lead other young men," Reginald said, via 5NEWS. "But when your first interaction is with someone and negative, I don’t like your hair, and it just goes downhill from there and you never take a stance to reconcile it, you just keep defending it. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth."
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