Metro Weekly

College basketball player EJ Liddell received racist, anti-gay messages after Ohio State loss

Ohio State player was told he should "die" after team's loss in NCAA Tournament

E.J. Liddell, basketball, racist, anti-gay
Ohio State basketball player E.J. Liddell — Photo: Instagram

Ohio State basketball player E.J. Liddell has shared the racist, anti-gay messages and death threats he received after his team’s loss in the NCAA Tournament last week.

The Buckeyes lost 72-75 to Oral Roberts University on March 19. Despite scoring 23 points during the game, Liddell took to Twitter over the weekend to share the harassment he had received via Instagram.

One user directed anti-gay and racial slurs at Liddell, including threatening to find him and “kill ya f****t ass.”

Another user called Liddell a “f**king disgrace” and told him, “Don’t ever show your face at Ohio state. We hate you. I hope you die I really do.”

“Honestly, what did I do to deserve this? I’m human,” the 20-year-old tweeted.

“Comments don’t get to me but I just wanna know why. I’ve never done anything to anyone in my life to be approached like this,” he added. “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.”

Ohio State basketball coach Chris Holtmann posted a statement of support to his Twitter account. 

“Recent social media comments to EJ Liddell, while not from or representative of Ohio State fans, are vile, dangerous and reflect the worst of humanity,” he said. “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.”

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith also condemned the messages and warned of involving the authorities should the messages continue.

“To the few of you who have chosen to inappropriately rail against our players on social media, stop,” he tweeted. “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.”

Liddell spoke about the emotionally exhausting experience in an interview with Sports Illustrated.

“I’ve never done anything to make someone say something like that to me,” he said. “I can’t imagine a fan would take a loss harder than me. I’m out there on the court working hard to win. It doesn’t make any sense.”

The university has since taken steps to address the incident, Liddell said, including more patrol cars around his neighborhood as well as additional measures meant to ensure his safety.

Liddell said he recognized fans often get emotional about games, but added, “Hopefully, they can realize that threats are taken seriously. In the world we live in anything can happen.”

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