A former basketball player is claiming homophobic tweets he posted were actually part of a “psychology experiment”.

Marshall Henderson, a former University of Mississippi basketball star, had initially tweeted anti-gay remarks after seeing a news report in which Michael Sam kissed his boyfriend Vito Cammisano.

Henderson said: “Boycotting sportscenter til this michael sam nasty ass shit is off …. My brothers are 7 and 11 and saw that!

“Im (sic) sorry, but I DO NOT AGREE WHATSOEVER that should be shown to where innocent eyes can see!!!”

However, after attracting an incredibly hostile reaction for the comments, Henderson claimed the entire incident is a psychology experiment cooked up by his gay best friend.

Over an hour after his original post, he said: “One of my best friends, WHO IS GAY, is about to graduate in psychology, asked me to say these things so he can have response.

“The point of his study was to see how people react when others say things or act a certain way against another group of people.

“ITS CALLED PSYCHOLOGY …. and everyone just got taken to school”

It is not the first time a sports star has offered a bizarre excuse for seemingly-homophobic behaviour.

Yesterday, Australian Rugby League player Grayson Goodwin claimed his online anti-gay remarks about a referee were posted by a friend while he was in the toilet.

Last month, wrestler Jon Jones claimed that his phone had been stolen and used to post homophobic slurs, conflicting with management claims that his account had been hacked.

He later changed his story, to say an employee with access to his account had posted the messages, but he had coincidentally happened to lose his phone, causing confusion.