Ohio State has alerted police to threatening messages received by star forward E.J. Liddell after Friday’s stunning overtime loss to Oral Roberts in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN.
Liddell scored 23 points in the loss but missed a free throw with 35 seconds left in regulation that would have put the Buckeyes up by three. He shared direct messages he said he received after the 75-72 loss to the 15th-seeded Golden Eagles.
“What did I do to deserve this? I’m human,” asked Liddell in a tweet that shared the obscenity- and slur-laced messages, which included direct threats and wishes for Liddell’s death.
Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann and athletic director Gene Smith sounded off about the situation on Saturday.
“These comments, while not from or representative of Ohio State fans, are vile, dangerous and reflect the worst of humanity,” Holtmann said in a statement he posted to Twitter. “EJ 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 to address this immediately.”
Smith also addressed it in a tweet.
“The threatening social media attack E.J. Liddell faced after the game yesterday is appalling and will not be tolerated,” Smith tweeted. “To the few of you who have chosen to inappropriately rail against our players on social media, stop. 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.”
Oral Roberts was the first No. 15 seed to win in the tournament since 2016 (Middle Tennessee over Michigan State). It was the first NCAA Tournament win for the program since 1974.
Others outside of Ohio State came to Liddell’s defense, including Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, who posted a passionate statement to Twitter.
“This isn’t ok,” he wrote. .”.. When are we going to stop using this platform as a place to spew hate? It’s ok to want to win and be disappointed that your team didn’t. Or be disappointed when someone misses a shot, makes an error, drops a pass, whatever. But to use social media to harass and threaten someone? Do you think we as athletes, in those moments don’t already feel awful for our teammates, coaches, families, fans?”
He continued: “Yes E.J., you are human. So are all of us. Sorry you have to experience this. Don’t block it out tho, save it. Make it a strength, use it to fuel you to become the best version of yourself. And to the people that love to spew this … just be better.”
–Field Level Media