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Troy administration concludes ponytail comment not made by staffer

| February 27, 2007 11:00 PM

By BRENT SHRUM Western News Editor

An alleged comment that a Troy High School basketball player's ponytail made the team "look homosexual" appears not to have originated with a school official, according to an investigation by the district administration.

Superintendent Brady Selle said that after meeting with the boy's father and coach and discussing what happened at length, there is "no indication" that anyone employed by the school made the comment.

"If it comes out that it was a staff member, that's something we would take very seriously," Selle said.

Earlier this month, Brian Miller - the father of basketball player Erik Miller - requested an apology after his son was directed by coach Tony Smith not to wear his hair in a ponytail at games in Troy or Libby. Miller said the directive was thought to have come from "greater powers" who thought his son's hair "makes the team look homosexual."

Smith declined to comment on the issue. After discussing what had happened, Selle and Brian Miller agreed that while Smith had barred Erik Miller from wearing the ponytail, the reasons he gave were concerned with presenting a proper appearance and that Smith had not said anything about the hairstyle looking "homosexual." That comment may have been passed along to Erik Miller by another student, Selle said, but its origins are unclear.

"Somehow it got around," Brian Miller said.

He said he knew Smith had not said it, but he had assumed it had come from someone within the school system. He indicated that it might also have come from someone in the crowd at a home basketball game.

Miller said he would still like to see someone take accountability for the statement.