Former Jacksonville Jaguars and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has admitted that his former Buckeyes players were shown a photo of a hooded Trayvon Martin during a team meeting as part of the program's "no hoodie" policy.
The confirmation of the damning incident by Meyer, reported this week by the Columbus Dispatch, comes days after the embattled former head coach had initially denied knowledge of the Martin photo, which according to former Buckeyes defensive back Marcus Williamson was shown in a PowerPoint presentation during a meeting in 2017.
Meyer, according to The Dispatch, changed his tune after speaking with former Buckeyes defensive back Tyvis Powell, who apparently confirmed the photo -- but Meyer maintained that neither he nor any of his assistants were responsible.
“I didn’t know about it until one hour ago, until after talking to [Powell],” Meyer told The Dispatch. “I wasn’t there [in the meeting]. None of the coaches were present. It was a support staffer who was in error and apologized."
But Meyer's initial response to Williamson's claims, which came in a series of tweets on New Year's Day, was quite different. Meyer, who was fired by the Jaguars last month after just 14 games at the helm, vehemently denied the report and suggested Williamson had fabricated the story and was "piling on" following his ouster from Jacksonville, according to author and Ohio State insider Jeff Snook.
“Our team rule was no hats or hoodies or sunglasses of any kind but only in team meetings, just so we could see their eyes and make sure they were paying attention and not asleep," Meyer told Snook. "We did not, and never would show a picture of Trayvon Martin. My gosh, no. That is absolutely false, and you can check with any other player on my teams during that time to confirm what I am saying. Other players know what he is saying is false. I would never do that. He is crossing the line here. It seems people are just piling on now. But that never happened.”
Williamson, who joined Ohio State at 17 years old as an early enrollee, also claimed that Meyer told him he'd "ruin his fucking life" if he were ever caught smoking cannabis.
The Martin photo incident is the latest in a long string of unflattering headlines regarding Meyer's conduct toward his teams and players. He was said to have alienated many Jaguars players during his brief time in Jacksonville, and was dismissed amid a furor after reports said he had kicked ex-kicker Josh Lambo during warmups before a preseason game.
Martin, 17, was fatally shot in Sanford, Florida, in February 2012 after he was engaged by George Zimmerman, an armed neighborhood watchman. Martin was unarmed, and his tragic death sparked outrage nationally and beyond.