American football coach Greg McMackin has issued an apology for using the term ‘faggot’ in a press conference on Thursday morning.

He used the gay slur in a press briefing at the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) American football preview in Salt Lake City.

McMackin, who coaches the University of Hawaii team, used the world ‘faggot’ to describe a cheer used by the Notre Dame players before last year’s Hawaii Bowl.

“They get up and do this little cheer,” he said. “Like this little faggot dance”.

After continuing with the conference, McMackin paused and said to reporters: “Don’t write that ‘faggot’ down. I was misquoted.”

With WAC commissioner Karl Benson in attendance at the meeting, McMackin pleaded again with journalists not to report the slur, saying: “Please cover for me on that. . . I’ll deny it.”

He added: “I want to officially, officially apologise. Please don’t write that statement I said as far as Notre Dame. The reason is, I don’t care about Notre Dame. . . I don’t want to come out and have every homosexual ticked off at me.”

Later, when Benson reportedly asked McMackin to re-address the media, the coach said: “I would sincerely like to apologise for the inappropriate verbage and words that I used. . . I don’t have any prejudices, and it really makes me mad that I even said that. I’m disappointed in myself.”

He blamed his own “very competitive” nature and the loss against Notre Dame for his comment, adding: “What I was trying to do was be funny and it wasn’t funny. It’s not funny, and even more, it isn’t funny to me. I was trying to make a joke and it was a bad choice of words.”

Benson followed McMackin’s statements, saying that the incident was “primarily. . . a University of Hawaii issue. At the appropriate time we will be able to address it”.

Hawaii posted an additional statement of apology by McMackin on its website.