Ohio State coaches and officials are issuing strong denials in response to a report that the father of a former Ohio State player said his son was the target of racial comments made by former Buckeyes assistant coach Zach Smith.
A story posted by college football reporter Brett McMurphy to WatchStadium.com reported that LeBron Grimes, the father of former Ohio State wide receiver Trevon Grimes, claimed that Smith called his son a “bitch ass (N-word)” during practice last year.
The story intimated that head coach Urban Meyer tried to cover up the incident by taking a trip to Grimes’ home in Florida.
Trevon Grimes, who is now at the University of Florida, did not comment for the story, but three of his current teammates at Florida claimed Smith directed the N-word at Grimes.
Smith denied the allegation.
“I’ve never said (the N-word) in my entire life. I’ve never been in a fight with a player in my life. Never. That never happened,” Smith stated, according to College Football Talk.
During a conference call Tuesday, head coach Urban Mayer said he was “irate” when he heard the allegations, calling the report “the most preposterous thing” he has experienced as a college football coach.
Meyer also said the university is considering legal action.
Athletic director Gene Smith issued a statement criticizing the report.
“The accusations made today by Brett McMurphy regarding our coach and the reasons for the transfer of Trevon Grimes are unequivocally false,” Smith said. “Urban Meyer embraces diversity and would absolutely never support an environment of racism. It simply isn’t tolerated here. And as an African-American, football player and collegiate administrator, I personally can say that our coaches, student-athletes and support staff know there is no place for any such behavior within our programs, at The Ohio State University or anywhere.”
Several current and former Ohio State players have publicly criticized the report, and Ohio State president Michael Drake called the allegation “outrageous and false.”
Leah Grimes, Trevon’s mother, issued a statement for the story.
“I understand there is great interest in college football and the personalities involved. But that does not give anyone the right to invade the privacy and personal health information of mothers whose sons happen to play college football,” she said in the statement. “The NCAA cleared Trevon for eligibility based on their rules after I provided the required documentation about my illness. My oncologist has attested to it. For anyone to accuse me of making up an illness for any reason is vile and hurtful. Coach Urban Meyer has been a good friend to both me and Trevon during this entire process, and to accuse him of misconduct in this case is unfair as well. He tried to help any way he could, including referring me to doctors at Ohio State he thought could help.
“If my ex-husband is the person spreading these rumors, everyone should know that neither I nor Trevon have any contact with him whatsoever. He knows nothing about my health and nothing about Trevon’s transfer to UF. He is an abuser and the worst kind of role model, and he is no longer in Trevon’s life.
“I know that stories about college football coaches and players will continue to be news, but I ask that my health be kept out of it. I did not ask to be in the spotlight, and I am angry that someone has tried to put me there.”