After the loss, Liddell shared screenshots of messages he said he received from two disgruntled fans, including one who threatened to find him and physically attack him. Responding to a couple of fans, Liddell asked, “What have I done to deserve this? I’m a man.”
Another fan wrote to Liddell, “You’re such a disgrace. Never show your face in Ohio. We hate you. I hope you really die.”
Buckey coach Chris Holtmann issued a statement Saturday morning supporting Liddell.
“These comments, while not from representatives of Ohio State fans or are representatives of them, are vile, dangerous and reflect the worst of humanity,” Holtmann said. “EJ is an outstanding young man who had an outstanding second season and was key to the success of our team. We will take the necessary steps here at the University to address this immediately.”
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith has promised police involvement.
“The threatening attack on social media that EJ Liddell faced after yesterday’s game is intimidating and will not be tolerated,” Smith tweeted Saturday morning. “For the few of you who have decided to inappropriately sharpen against our players on social media, stop. Hatred and ridicule have no place in Buckeye Nation or in civil society. If you cross the border and threaten our players, you will hear the authorities. I promise you that.”
Liddell said he is not afraid of comments, but wants an explanation.
“The comments don’t reach me, but I just want to know why,” Liddell wrote on Twitter. “I have never done anything in my life to be approached like this.
“I’m not saying anything negative about Ohio State fans. I love you all very much and I didn’t feel anything but being appreciated from the first day I stepped on campus.”
Former Ohio state star Jared Sullinger was among those who put support behind Liddell, writing that some people “don’t see you as a man anymore as fun”.
“Keep being the young man you are, brother,” Sullinger wrote to Liddell. “Proud of you. Use these messages to kindle a fire.”
Liddell, the second student, had 23 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Buckeys, who were second in the Big Ten tournament and entered the game in the first round on Friday as favorites with 16 points.
“The vast majority of Buckeye fans recognize that no one is more disappointed with our unexpected early departure from the NCAA tournament than our coaches and players,” Smith said. “They put in all the work and sacrificed significant freedoms, especially during the COVID pandemic. I thank all of you who have reached out with compassion.”