Ohio State football did use an image of Trayvon Martin during a team meeting in 2017 to help enforce the program's "no hoodies" policy.
Urban Meyer, who was Ohio State's head coach at the time, acknowledged Tuesday that the image was used, but he didn't have any knowledge of it.
“I didn’t know about it until one hour ago, until after talking to (former safety Tyvis Powell),” Meyer told Rob Oller of the Columbus 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.”
Buckeyes cornerback Marcus Williamson brought the situation to light in a Twitter thread on Jan. 1. The fifth-year senior wrote the image of Martin was used during his first team meeting in 2017:
Meyer previously told Ohio State reporter Jeff Snook that he never used an image of Martin as part of a presentation about not wearing hoodies:
"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. 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."
Powell, who played at Ohio State from 2013 to 2015, tweeted what he heard regarding the situation:
Tyvis Powell @1Tyvis
The players I’ve talked to said the person in charge was truly uneducated on that situation & really didn’t have any idea the story behind the image. So Marcus isn’t telling a lie about that. It was something that was handled in private. I still stand on my racial stance of OSU
Martin, 17, was shot and killed in 2012 by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who had earlier called 911 to report a "suspicious person," in a case that gained national attention.
Meyer was Ohio State's head coach from 2012 to 2018. He retired from coaching following the Buckeyes' appearance in the 2019 Rose Bowl against Washington.
After a three-year hiatus, Meyer returned to coaching when he was hired by the Jacksonville Jaguars in January 2021.
The 57-year-old only made it through 13 games before being fired after a report from NFL Network's Tom Pelissero about "run-ins with players and other coaches in recent weeks" and an accusation by former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo that Meyer kicked him during the preseason.