Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell shared offensive comments, including racial slurs and threats of violence, posted to his Instagram account after the Buckeye’s 75-72 loss to Oral Roberts on Friday in the first major upset of the NCAA Tournament. Charles Barkley responded immediately, calling the people responsible for the posts “losers” and “cowards,” and Ohio State sports officials announced they have called the police to report the “vile” and “dangerous” threats to their players.
Messages included one that read, “I hope somebody shoot you in ya face,” and that he wants to “kill” Liddell. Another said, “You are such a f—ing disgrace. Don’t ever show your face at Ohio State … I hope you die, I really do.”
Liddell posted screenshots of the messages to his Twitter page Friday. “Honestly, what did I do to deserve this? I’m human,” he said:
Honestly, what did I do to deserve this? I’m human. pic.twitter.com/djXzhSH0q8
— E.J. Liddell (@EasyE2432) March 20, 2021
Barkley said during the March Madness broadcast, “You guys give me a hard time because I refuse to do any type of social media, this is the reason why.”
“No. 1, he had a great game,” Barkley continued, “But for you to give this kid death threats and hurl racial slurs at him because you’re safe in your own home like a coward, behind a computer and nobody know who you are, you need to take a hard look at yourself in the mirror.”
“I am never gonna dignify these losers and interact with them ever; I don’t care how much money somebody offers me, I’ll never do social media because of this,” Barkley added:
Charles Barkley on EJ Liddell harassment from fans on Instagram “I’m never gonna dignify these losers and interact with them ever, I don’t care how much money some offers me, I’ll never do social media because of this” pic.twitter.com/fCpgC0O12f
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) March 20, 2021
Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann defended Liddell on Saturday, posting to his Twitter account, “Recent social media comments to E.J. Liddell, while not from or representative of Ohio State fans, are vile, dangerous and reflect the worst of humanity.”
“E.J. is an outstanding young man who had a tremendous sophomore season and he was instrumental in our team’s success. We will take all the necessary actions to address this immediately,” Holtmann concluded:
— Chris Holtmann (@ChrisHoltmann) March 20, 2021
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith defended Liddell on Saturday, saying, “The threatening social media attack E.J. Liddell faced after the game yesterday is appalling and will not be tolerated. … If you cross the line and threaten our players, you will be hearing from the authorities. That I promise you”:
I will support our student-athletes in and out of competition!
I have nothing but love and respect for E.J. He epitomizes all that we hope for in our student-athletes. pic.twitter.com/BxejMWvo1x
— Gene Smith (@OSU_AD) March 20, 2021
Ohio State associate athletic director for communications Dan Wallenberg told reporters he contacted police on Saturday morning about the threats.