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Father seeks apology for comment on son's hair

| February 15, 2007 11:00 PM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

The father of a Troy High School basketball player wants an apology after his son was allegedly told he could not play with his hair in a ponytail.

Parent Brian Miller claims the directive came from "greater powers," who said senior Erik Miller's ponytail "made the team look gay."

Brian Miller's older son, Brendan, read the request for the apology during Troy School Board's public comment period at Tuesday night's meeting. Brian Miller's job kept him from attending.

The board, which had no response, is not permitted by state law to act on matters discussed during the public comment period. It would have to be placed on a future meeting agenda.

Superintendent Brady Selle said the administration, including Troy High School principal Rodney Smith, continues to investigate.

"We're working on that today," Selle said Wednesday. "Mr. Smith has worked on it and can't find anything."

Troy basketball coach Tony Smith did not want to comment.

"It's a non-issue as far as I'm concerned," Tony Smith said.

The alleged incident occurred when Troy hosted Libby on Jan. 9. Senior Erik Miller told his father that the coach told him he could not play at home games or games in Libby if he wore his shoulder-length, tight curly hair in a ponytail.

The directive allegedly came from someone higher up. Brian Miller indicated that he believes the term used was "it makes the team look homosexual."

"He told me that after the game," Brian Miller told The Western News on Wednesday. "I turned right around in the middle of the road and went to see Mr. (Rodney) Smith. He said he knew nothing at that time."

Erik Miller continues to play. He wears his hair in a headband when he plays in Troy and Libby.

That's how he planned to wear his hair for the district tournament in Libby, which opened Wednesday and runs through Saturday.

"I guess he looks different when it's tied back," Brian Miller said. "It brings out his Spanish background."