On Saturday morning, sports reporter Matt Napolitano reported that the university is looking into a string of messages and death threats that Buckeyes forward, E.J. Liddell, received following the team’s loss to Oral Roberts University.
“Ohio State has reached out to authorities to look into death threats against Liddell,” Napolitano tweeted. “Absolutely depraved. There’s no place for this toxicity in sports.”
On Friday, Liddell took to Twitter where he shared screenshots of people threatening to harm him physically—and in some cases—threatening to kill him.
“Honestly, what did I do to deserve this? I’m human,” Liddell wrote before explaining that these comments go beyond the normal jeering and banter that comes with playing sports.
“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 continued. “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.”
The nature of these threats prompted school officials to step in to find their source and validity. Ohio State Athletic Director, Gene Smith, also released a statement praising Liddell and defending him from these vicious comments.
“The threatening social media attack E.J. Liddell faced after the game yesterday is appalling and will not be tolerated. To the few of you who have chosen to inappropriately rail against our players on social media, stop,” Smith said per USA Today. "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…I have nothing but love and respect for E.J. He epitomizes all that we hope for in our student athletes.”
No. 2 seeded Ohio State’s loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament to the No. 15-placed Oral Roberts University on Friday. Although Liddell has been a backbone for the team throughout the season, fans decided to place the 72-75 loss squarely on his shoulders. This is the fifth time in nine years that a No. 15 team has beat a No. 2 team in the NCAA tournament. Oral Roberts will now square off against the Florida Gators on Sunday.