Coaches and administrators from Ole Miss and Mississippi State said they hope they're ready for it, even if the situation has not presented itself yet.

The question, though, was unavoidable Monday, a day after former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced via ESPN and the New York Times that he was gay.

"To say that are we ready? We don't know," Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork said. "We haven't had anybody approach us. But I feel confident in who we are as coaches and as administrators and as a campus. We would want someone to feel welcome and free, and to be who they are."

Said Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin: "We focus on what kind of people individuals are, and what their work ethics and talents are. What makes them unique, more so than the other things that at the end of the day doesn't impact their ability to be successful academically and athletically."

Sam will be the first openly gay player in the NFL, but what stood out about the story was that he was already open about his sexuality to his teammates and coaches at Missouri. They accepted him and Sam flourished as a senior, earning co-Souteastern Conference defensive player of the year honors and leading the Tigers to an SEC East championship.

"Chances are, there's a guy that is gay on every team," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. "It's not that big of a deal. Statistically speaking probably more than one."

Mullen said it is not a situation he has come across during his coaching career yet, but Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said he has.

"Certainly don't want to call any names, because everybody is entitled to their privacy unless they want it to be public," Freeze said. "I guarantee in both cases they knew the coaching staff loved them and respected them."

Ole Miss became the subject of national headlines in October when an audience at an on-campus performance of "The Laramie Project" allegedly used a homophobic slur. The university later said it could not determine what was said and who said it, and the school's investigation made a point of clearing the athletes (including freshmen football players) in attendance.

Mississippi State had its own issue Sunday night, when reserve tight end Rufus Warren tweeted "big props" to Sam, but also wrote that football "is a MAN sport! And being gay is not a man." Warren later deleted the tweets, and wrote, "I deeply apologize to my school and my followers."

"The people that haven't been around it that much, sometimes there's questioning," Mullen said. "'What kind of person is this going to be?' when you're around someone that is new — especially with young kids. But you educate them and teach them that there's nothing really different. It's the same person you knew."

Said Stricklin: "Some people may have strong opinions on things they don't agree with, which is fine. But you have to deal with what affects you, and things that don't directly affect you, you don't have to worry about. But those are learning opportunities too."

Ole Miss required the play audience members to attend an "educational dialogue session." Bjork said since they've continued to preach the same message of inclusiveness, not treating gay or straight any differently than it does any other aspect of its athletes' personal lives.

"We're going to treat them as a human being first and foremost," Bjork said. "That's the first thing we would do in handling it, if it comes to light. We want our place to be an environment where everybody is treated equally, and with respect and dignity."

Presented with a current player wanting to come out, Freeze said he'd pursue every resource to "make sure it was dealt with respectfully and appropriately." There are groups doing that kind of work, like the You Can Play Project. The group has worked with multiple sports on every level of athletics with a simple slogan, "If you can play, you can play."