1870 Mag

Meyer Mulling Legal Action Against McMurphy

Brett McMurphy, the journalist whose name you might recall from the story that resulted in the firing of Zach Smith and suspensions for Urban Meyer and Gene Smith, has claimed that Trevon Grimes, a former OSU wide receiver, transferred after an altercation with Zach Smith that included a racial slur from Smith directed at Grimes.

From McMurphy’s piece on WatchStadium:

Trevon told his father he got into an altercation with Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith at practice.

LeBron Grimes said his son told him that “Zach got up in his face and called him a ‘bitch ass n – – – – -’ and said, ‘I should have never recruited you.’ And then Trevon said something to Zach about him messing around with college girls.”

During that phone call, LeBron told his son he had booked a flight and would be in Columbus in three days. Trevon told him if he didn’t get there the next day he was leaving school.’

The piece of this article that has lit a fire underneath Ohio State officials, though, is McMurphy’s claim that Urban Meyer helped to cover up this altercation by telling Grimes he could transfer anywhere as long as he was quiet about the situation.

If Trevon remained quiet about the practice altercation, LeBron said, Ohio State would allow him to transfer anywhere. In 2017, coaches could block student-athletes from receiving an athletic scholarship from another school. That rule changed a few weeks ago.

People within and around the program have come out en masse to dispute this claim that they would have any part of allowing a racist slur at practice or in the program.

Meyer’s statement on the subject:

Tate Martell:

Former player Joshua Perry:

J.T. Barrett’s mother, Stacy:

Ohio State President Michael V. Drake:

And so, Urban Meyer has said that the university may be seeking legal action against McMurphy on the basis of defamation.

From Colin Hass-Hill of Eleven Warriors:

Ryan Stubenrauch, an Ohio lawyer who does public records training, said Meyer is more likely than Ohio State to pursue legal action because he is the one cast in “bad light” that damages him and is “injured” by the claims. Both Stubenrauch and Christopher Hollon, an Ohio lawyer who is the current chair of the Ohio State Bar Association’s media law committee, said Meyer would likely file a defamation claim if he opts to take the legal route.

However, both Stubenrauch and Hollon agree that it’s unlikely Meyer would win since he would need to prove McMurphy knowingly printed falsehoods.

“For public figures, politicians, sports coaches, figures that are in the media all the time, we have a heightened bar and I have to prove that you either knew for certain it was false, I have to prove that you were 100 percent lying, or I have to prove that you recklessly disregarded information that suggested it was false,” Stubenrauch said. “So, that’s kind of like a fancy lawyer way of saying either you knew it was false or you damn well should have. That’s probably the colloquial way to explain defamation.”

No lawsuit has been filed yet, but McMurphy has certainly frustrated Meyer and those around the Ohio State football program and university.

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