Ohio State has reached out to police after sophomore forward E.J. Liddell received threatening messages following the 2-seed Buckeyes’ 75-72 overtime loss to No. 15 Oral Roberts in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN’s Myron Medcalf.
Liddell posted screenshots of the social media messages that he received from multiple fans on Friday. The messages included racist and homophobic slurs and threats of physical violence.
“You are such a f—ing disgrace,” one fan wrote. “Don’t ever show your face at Ohio State. We hate you. I hope you die. I really do.”
In response to the messages, Liddell tweeted, “Honestly, what did I do to deserve this? I’m human.” He added that he had “never done anything to anyone in my life to be approached like this.”
This is not me saying anything negative about Ohio State fans. I love you all dearly and I’ve felt nothing but appreciated since the first day I stepped on campus.
— E.J. Liddell (@EasyE2432) March 20, 2021
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith released a statement Saturday saying the messages Liddell received were “appalling and will not be tolerated.”
“To the few of you who have chosen to inappropriately rail against our players on social media, stop,” Smith said. “Hate and derision have no place in Buckeye Nation or in civil society. If you cross the line and threaten our players, you will be hearing from the authorities. That I promise you.”
I will support our student-athletes in and out of competition!
I have nothing but love and respect for E.J. He epitomizes all that we hope for in our student-athletes. pic.twitter.com/BxejMWvo1x
— Gene Smith (@OSU_AD) March 20, 2021
Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann also issued a statement Saturday.
“Recent social media comments to E.J. Liddell, while not from or representative of Ohio State fans, are vile, dangerous and reflect the worst of humanity,” Holtmann said. “E.J. is an outstanding young man who had a tremendous sophomore season and he was instrumental in our team’s success.
“We will take the necessary actions here at the University to address this immediately.”
Liddell had a team-high 23 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in 39 minutes against the Golden Eagles. Oral Roberts’ win marked just the ninth time in the history of the NCAA Tournament that a No. 15 seed defeated a No. 2 seed.