Following a report by Brett McMurphy this morning that former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith used a racial slur against former Ohio State wide receiver Trevon Grimes and that Urban Meyer was aware of an altercation between them, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Tuesday afternoon that he was "disappointed" in McMurphy's report and that Meyer would never allow a racial slur to be used by anyone associated with his program.
"As a person who promotes diversity in everything I do, obviously being an African-American, I would never allow this to exist in our culture," Gene Smith told Eleven Warriors by phone on Tuesday afternoon. "So it’s disappointing that someone would try and for whatever reason he’s doing this to put a young man like Trevon and his mother in his crosshairs. And then ultimately, our head football coach, who I know from the bottom of my heart, would go berserk if there was anything around our program that disparaged anyone of color."
Smith said in a statement released through the university and through Twitter on Tuesday afternoon that the accusations made in McMurphy's report were "unequivocally false."
The accusations made today by Brett McMurphy regarding our coach and the reasons for the transfer of Trevon Grimes are unequivocally false. Urban Meyer embraces diversity and would absolutely never support an environment of racism. It simply isnt tolerated here...— gene smith (@OSU_AD) November 13, 2018
CONTINUED: ... 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.— gene smith (@OSU_AD) November 13, 2018
"We talked with all of our players about a week ago, and they confirmed that the N-word was never used around the incident that Brett McMurphy is citing," Smith told Eleven Warriors. "If you talk to any of our wide receivers, they would tell you that."
Smith said he was also disappointed that the report – which stemmed from accusations made by Grimes' father, but did not quote Grimes and included a denial from his mother – made accusations against Grimes, who he said Ohio State worked with closely to enable him to transfer to Florida so that he could be closer to his mother, who was diagnosed with cancer last fall.
"I’m really disappointed and feel bad for Trevon and his mother," Smith said. "He was a good young man who wanted to go home and be close to his mother for the right reasons, medical reasons. We were highly active in working with Florida to put together the documentation to provide a waiver so that his eligibility would be restored immediately so he could play right away."
Smith said that if an employee of the Ohio State athletic department was ever found to have used a racial slur, that person's employment would be terminated immediately.
"We’re such a welcoming environment for women and for men of color and for international students, and to think that we’d tolerate something like that is ridiculous," Smith said. "And to think that our players on the field or in any of our sports would tolerate that the way it’s being accused is ridiculous. The Johnnie Dixons, the Parris Campbells, you can go down the list just like I can, they would go berserk."
"So it’s something that I would not tolerate, and our university does not tolerate. And it’s not right. And we work very hard to make sure we have an inclusive and accepting environment, for not just our students and student-athletes, but our staff and coaches and everybody else."
Ohio State said in a university statement on Tuesday that it "unequivocally and vehemently disputes the unfounded allegations by Brett McMurphy.
"Any allegations of racism are outrageous and false," Ohio State's statement continued. "The university told McMurphy that we have found no evidence to support these allegations. 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. It is regrettable that McMurphy and his employer would use such poor judgment in running this inaccurate story."
Several Ohio State wide receivers, including Campbell, Dixon and Austin Mack, also took to Twitter to dispute the alleged use of a racial slur.