Former Arkansas-Fort Smith guard Tyler Williams said he is no longer a member of the team in part because head coach Jim Boone told him to cut his dreadlocks.
Erik Horne of The Oklahoman reported the news, noting Boone dismissed Williams from the team on Aug. 16 before what would have been his second season on the Lions.
"To kick someone off the team just because of their hair, that's not right," Williams said. "I just felt disrespected and devalued after he told me that."
According to Horne, Williams told his parents the first thing Boone ever told him was that he would not recruit players with similar hairstyles as his. Williams also provided audio to The Oklahoman of the meeting on Aug. 16 in which the coach said the only reason he let the guard keep his hairstyle was that he was there before Boone arrived.
Boone also said he disapproved of the dreadlocks because he thinks they affect "the face of our program," and suggested to Williams he could leave if he had a problem with that policy.
Horne noted the Williams family also took issue with the guard being the only returning player who had his locker moved.
"You don't need to be here," Boone can be heard saying. "You don't need to be here. You don't need to be a part of this team. If you want to go to school here, you can do that, and you can keep your scholarship here. But you don't need to be on this team."
University chancellor Terisa Riley said the school's human resources department is investigating the Williams family's complaint.
According to the Arkansas-Fort Smith team website, Williams started all 29 games last season and finished second on the team in scoring (12.9 points per game), third in total assists (54) and fourth in total steals (25) while shooting 38 percent from three-point range and being selected to attend the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum.
Williams now plays for Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma.