Ohio State has reached out to the police, a source told ESPN's Myron Medcalf, after Buckeyes forward E.J. Liddell received threatening messages following the team's first-round exit from the NCAA tournament Friday.
Following the loss, Liddell shared screenshots of messages he said he received from the two disgruntled fans, including one who threatened to find and physically attack him. In responding to the pair of fans, Liddell asked, "What did I do to deserve this? I'm human."
Another fan wrote to Liddell: "You are such a f---ing disgrace. Don't ever show your face at Ohio State. We hate you. I hope you die I really do."
Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann issued a statement Saturday morning supporting Liddell.
"These comments, while not from or representative of Ohio State fans, are vile, dangerous and reflect the worst of humanity," Holtmann 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 here at the University to address this immediately."
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith promised police involvement.
"The threatening social media attack E.J. Liddell faced after the game yesterday is appalling and will not be tolerated," Smith tweeted Saturday morning. "To the few of you who have chosen to inappropriately rail against our players on social media, stop. 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 said he's not fearful of the comments, but wants an explanation.
"Comments don't get to me but I just wanna know why," Liddell wrote on Twitter. "I've never done anything to anyone in my life to be approached like this.
"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."
Former Ohio State star Jared Sullinger was among those who threw their support behind Liddell, writing that some people "don't see you as a human more like entertainment."
"Keep being the young man that you are bro," Sullinger wrote to Liddell. "Proud of you. Use these messages to fuel your fire."
Liddell, a sophomore, had 23 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Buckeyes, who were runners-up in the Big Ten tournament and entered Friday's first-round game as 16-point favorites.
"The vast majority of Buckeye fans recognize that no one is more disappointed in our unexpected early departure from the NCAA tournament than our coaches and players," Smith said. "They put in all the work and sacrificed considerable freedoms, especially during the COVID pandemic. To all of you who reached out with compassion, I thank you."