Ohio State University President Michael Drake issued a statement Tuesday denying Brett McMurphy’s report, released Tuesday through Stadium, accusing head coach Urban Meyer of covering up a verbal altercation between former wide receivers coach Zach Smith and former Ohio State wide receiver Trevon Grimes.
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith also issued a statement responding to McMurphy’s claims, denying McMurphy’s report.
The report states Zach Smith used racial slurs directed toward Grimes, leading to Grimes’ departure from the program.
In the report, Ohio State confirmed there was an altercation between Zach Smith and Grimes, who transferred to Florida in 2017, but said there was no physical altercation or “racially offensive language used.”
“The Ohio State University unequivocally and vehemently disputes the unfounded allegations by Brett McMurphy,” Drake said via a released statement. “Any allegations of racism are outrageous and false. The university told McMurphy that we have found no evidence to support these allegations.”
When contacted, McMurphy stood by his story, saying he “presented both sides of the story” and that there “are not allegations by me.”
“I was reported what I was told,” McMurphy said. “Everyone was quoted on record.”
On the Big Ten Teleconference on Tuesday, Meyer said he read the report and said he was angry with the accusations made against him.
“My first reaction was like everyone’s around here, it was irate,” Meyer said. “And our players were I mean over the top irate. They came to see me. They were extremely upset that that kind of accusation would be made about something that is absolutely not tolerated and quite honestly the most preposterous thing I ever heard being involved in college athletics.”
Meyer said he was made aware of the story last week, saying that Gene Smith and the administration acted as Ohio State prepared for the Michigan State game. The head coach said up to 10 people were interviewed about the situation.
Meyer traveled to Florida to visit Grimes along with Smith and director of player development Ryan Stamper, on Oct. 9, five days prior to the Buckeyes’ game against Nebraska on Oct. 14.
“We made a trip to Florida like we would any player. We had in the past, to go visit a mom that was very recently diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Her and her son were in distress and we went to spend about five hours with them,” Meyer said. “Gene was very aware, everybody was aware and it was the right thing to do and we have done that kind of thing in the past and we would do that again, any player that is in distress, to show our support.”
However, according to McMurphy’s report, LeBron Grimes, Trevon Grimes’ father, who was not at the meeting that day, said his son threatened to go public with the alleged racial altercation between he and Smith. The report from McMurphy also stated that Trevon Grimes and his father have not spoken “for more than two years.”
“Reporting in this manner is irresponsible, inflammatory and a severe invasion of privacy of a student athlete and his family as well as a baseless personal attack on Coach Meyer,” Drake said via a released statement. “It is regrettable that McMurphy and his employer would use such poor judgment in running this inaccurate story.”
Meyer added that is looking into legal action against McMurphy, saying he does not know how McMurphy can “accuse people of something that did not happen.”
Many of Trevon Grimes’ former teammates have come to his defense on social media, including wide receivers and current team captains Johnnie Dixon and Parris Campbell. Trevon Grimes himself has not released a statement, but has liked social media posts questioning McMurphy’s validity on his report.
Gene Smith said in a released statement shortly after Drake’s statement was tweeted out, calling the “accusations made today by McMurphy” to be “unequivocally false.”
“Urban Meyer embraces diversity and would absolutely never support an environment of racism. It simply isn’t tolerated here,” Smith said in the statement. “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.”
Zach Smith was dismissed from the program on July 23 after allegations were made of domestic violence by his ex-wife Courtney Smith. Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 1 and was later suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season after reports claimed the head coach knew about the domestic violence allegations made against Zach Smith.
McMurphy was the first reporter to break the news about Zach Smith’s domestic abuse allegations in July. His credibility was called into question further along during the investigation after he was found to have edited his stories on Facebook to correct factual inaccuracies without issuing full corrections, as well as reporting on other news about Zach Smith that did not directly pertain to the investigation.
McMurphy is currently a reporter at Stadium after he was laid off by ESPN in April 2017.
Updated at 1:08 p.m. on Nov. 13 with McMurphy’s background information and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith’s statement.
Updated at 1:56 p.m. on Nov. 13 with quote from McMurphy.
Updated at 2:11 p.m. on Nov. 13 with quotes from Meyer.