It is related to freshman wide receiver Trevon Grimes’ departure from the program last year. According to Grimes’ father, LeBron, Trevon called him on September 26, 2017 upset after an incident at practice with receivers coach Zach Smith. The father claims that his son told him that Smith used the n-word during the exchange. Grimes left the program shortly afterward.
McMurphy says that athletic director Gene Smith initially told him on November 2nd that “Since our conversation I have looked into some of your questions. We have found no evidence that there was a physical altercation or racially charged remarks between Zach Smith and Trevon Grimes, and to reinforce my earlier comments to you on the phone, racially charged behavior is not accepted or tolerated within our program.” An Ohio State spokesman confirmed to McMurphy that something had happened, calling it an “interaction” between Smith and Grimes, but denied any evidence of it being physical or involving a racial slur.
Here is their statement released today after the story was published:
The Ohio State University unequivocally and vehemently disputes the unfounded allegations by Brett McMurphy. 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.
Several team members have already taken to Twitter to deny that any racial epithet was used:
Trevon Grimes, now playing at Florida, declined to offer comment. McMurphy cites three anonymous current teammates who confirm that Grimes has told them about Zach Smith’s use of the racial term.
The story takes a twist because Grimes transferred to Florida and was immediately eligible to play this year, a move supported by Ohio State on the basis that Grimes could move closer to home because of his mother being diagnosed with cancer. According to McMurphy, Urban Meyer and others from Ohio State flew down to Florida to meet with Grimes on October 9th. Per a statement from AD Smith, “Coach Meyer and others went to support Leah Grimes and Trevon on Monday, Oct. 9, an off day for our (players) because Leah was struggling with her health and they were going through a very stressful time.”
LeBron Grimes, who did not attend the meeting, claims they made the emergency trip to Florida to meet with his son because he was threatening to go public with what happened.
The father’s credibility is very much front and center in this story. A University of Florida spokesperson informed McMurphy “that Trevon knew I had spoken to his father LeBron and said, ‘Don’t believe anything he tells you,’ and also that he had not ‘seen or talked to his father in more than two years.’
That would be in contradiction to LeBron Grimes’ claim of traveling to see his son in September 2017 right after the incident. McMurphy also identifies another man, Dennis Allen, who says he traveled with the father from Indianapolis to Columbus to assist him when he went and met with his son.
Ohio State and current players are circling the wagons to defend Urban Meyer and the school from these latest allegations, Grimes and his mother are not talking about this incident and his transfer, and the father is involved in trying to expose what he calls the truth.
On one hand, you have the story that Ohio State supported a player who wanted to return home because of the health of his mother, and cared enough to fly the head coach down on a game week in October of last year. That is somewhat complicated by there being an acknowledged “interaction” a few days before he departed the program, even if they deny any physical contact or inappropriate language.
On the other hand, you have an implied story that the school engaged in a trade of allowing a transfer without any waiting period, with the mom’s health as a pre-textual rationale, in exchange for making the story go away.
Oh, and you have a dad as the main source, who the son claims is not part of his life, and the ex-wife claims is untrustworthy, as well as numerous Ohio State players who deny it happened as reported.
There are several questions on all sides coming out of this latest round of wild allegations and claims, and we have likely not heard the end of this one.