Ohio State denies story accusing Zach Smith of directing racial slur at former player

Ohio State and current Buckeyes football players denied a report that alleged former assistant coach Zach Smith directed a racial slur at a player in 2017, calling the “allegations of racism are outrageous and false."

A story published by Stadium’s Brett McMurphy – whose initial reports led to Smith’s firing and an investigation that resulted in the three-game suspension of head coach Urban Meyer – detailed an alleged incident between Smith and Trevon Grimes, a receiver who has since transferred to the University of Florida.

The story noted “getting to the truth proved difficult” and relied heavily on Grimes’ father – whose criminal history included domestic violence and drug arrests – for the details on the alleged September 2017 incident where Smith allegedly used the N-word. Trevon Grimes is African-American.  

“The Ohio State University unequivocally and vehemently disputes the unfounded allegations by Brett McMurphy,” Ohio State president Michael Drake said in a statement. “Any allegations of racism are outrageous and false. 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.”

McMurphy stood by his report, which he told USA TODAY Sports had on-the-record interviews from LeBron Grimes, Trevon’s father, and another friend of the family along with three unnamed teammates of Trevon Grimes at Florida who Trevon Grimes told about the incident. Trevon Grimes declined to answer McMurphy’s questions.

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