Two Kentucky high schools are investigating allegations in an online sports article that a student athlete was harassed and outed as gay during a December basketball tournament in Lexington.
On April 1, outsports.com published a feature story on Betsy Layne High School senior basketball player Dalton Maldonado, who said he was verbally assaulted and later chased by basketball players on an opposing team.
The article went viral. It was tweeted numerous times and shared by national news outlets. Fayette County and Floyd County school officials then opened investigations.
The allegations stem from a verbal exchange during a game at a holiday tournament at Lexington Catholic. Bryan Station beat Betsy Layne by 32 points.
Bryan Station High School principal Mike Henderson said emotions ran high between parents and a few players on both teams. He said the incident was handled quickly by the head coaches, and the tournament continued peacefully.
"When this story appeared and raised allegations of harassment and discrimination directed toward a single player, we were shocked and began an investigation," he said. "We are still gathering information at this time, but we have found several gross inaccuracies that cast doubt on the legitimacy of the story."
Henderson said Bryan Station does not tolerate or condone any form of harassment and "will continue to fully investigate this matter in conjunction with Floyd County Schools and will release our findings when complete."
According to the article, opposing players asked Maldonado, "Hey No. 3, I hear you're a faggot." The article said Maldonado responded with "Yeah baby, can I have your number?"
Floyd County Schools Superintendent Henry Webb said school officials are aware of the article and opened their own investigation.
"We are aware of the incident," but "we were not aware that the incident involved what the young man shared," he said.
The investigation should be closed early next week and a news release will be sent out reporting their findings, Webb said. Floyd County is working closely with Fayette County Schools, he said.
The article, which remains on the blog that's powered by the SB Nation website, said that after the exchange Maldonado was emotionally shaken when telling his teammates what had happened. Moments later, he told his teammates he is gay, the article said.
"After collecting their clothes and bags the team headed to the bus, where some of the opposing team had assembled. They were yelling 'faggot,' ordering him to stay out of the bus and face them," the article said.
"When Maldonado boarded, the opposing team proceeded to pound the nearest window of the bus with their fists as they yelled more gay slurs."
After the bus pulled away, several of the players followed the bus in their cars, the article said.
According to the article, only two of Maldonado's teammates knew previously that he is gay.
Lexington Catholic Athletic Director Brad Carter said he's seen the article and confirmed there were words exchanged and the situation escalated. He wouldn't go into detail about what happened, but the schools involved were notified.
Messages left for Maldonado by the Herald-Leader were not returned.
Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said the department received two calls regarding the incident. The first call was from the mother of one of the Betsy Layne players, Roberts said.
Then police received a second call from a Betsy Layne coach, Roberts said.
A police officer went to The Campbell House, where the team was staying, and met with the coach.
Roberts said the coach told the officer that a player on the opposing team said "We know where you're staying," to a player during a handshake at the end of the game.
The officer took notes but did not file a police report, she said.