D-II guard: Dreadlocks led to ouster from team

FORT SMITH, Ark. -- An Arkansas university is investigating allegations that a men's basketball player was dismissed because the coach disapproved of his dreadlocks.

Tyler Williams alleges he was dismissed from the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith's basketball team last month after head coach Jim Boone criticized his hairstyle.

A complaint filed by Williams alleges Boone's action amounts to "racism and bias.'' Chancellor Terisa Riley confirmed in an email Tuesday the school is investigating but officials say Boone remains the men's basketball coach.

Williams, a 22-year-old, 6-foot guard and honor roll student who played high school basketball in Oklahoma, has transferred to a college in the Oklahoma City area.

In December, a New Jersey high school wrestler had his dreadlocks cut after a referee told him to lose the hairstyle or forfeit his match.

An attorney for Boone issued a statement Wednesday on behalf of the coach in which he denied the allegations that Williams was mistreated over his hair.

"The issue about his hair had nothing to do with his decision to leave UA-Fort Smith," the attorney, Tom Mars, wrote. "To the contrary, this student-athlete decided to leave UA-FS because Coach Boone had recruited some players who were more talented. It was fairly obvious to everyone -- including Tyler -- that he wasn't going to get much time on the court next season if he stayed at UA-Fort Smith. That's the reason he transferred, and he'd already made that decision before he requested a meeting with Coach Boone."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.