Ole Miss' Otis Reese Alleges Racist Experiences with Police, Students at Georgia

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2020

FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2015, file photo, Georgia fans watch the season opening NCAA college football game against Louisiana Monroe at Sanford Stadium n Athens, Ga. The Georgia Bulldog are planning to have fans between the hedges. The school announced ticket plans that call for allowing 20-25% capacity at 92,746-seat Sanford Stadium.  (AP Photo/John Amis, File)
John Amis/Associated Press

Ole Miss defensive back Otis Reese said he was the victim of racist harassment and abuse at the University of Georgia before his transfer from the school.

In a statement posted to social media, Reese said he was "pulled over and harassed by police officers along with friends, not once but twice" during his time at the school. He alleged that on both occasions the officers "were extremely aggressive, accusing us of using drugs and searching the car without any basis and told us they would take us to jail."

He also alleged a white Georgia student-athlete called one of his friends the N-word and that "another group of white classmates mocked slavery and pretended to whip each other."

Reese's statement comes as he's attempting to receive waivers from the NCAA and SEC that would allow him to play for Ole Miss right away.

ESPN's Mark Schlabach shared a statement from Georgia addressing his claims:

"We cannot comment on student-athlete eligibility matters due to federal privacy laws, but we would be happy to share our full response to Otis Reese's waiver request, if he provides a signed release allowing us to do so. UGA disputes any suggestion that it maintains an unsafe, unsupportive, or racially insensitive environment."

Reese also wrote that he previously spoken to Georgia head coach Kirby Smart in October about his desire to leave the team, and Smart allegedly said he wouldn't stand in the way of Reese receiving a transfer waiver as long as he played out the remainder of the 2019 season.

In the statement, Reese added he felt "manipulated" to play "when I was truly at my darkest moment."

Reese appeared in 25 games in his two seasons at Georgia.

He wasn't the only former Bulldog to move on to another SEC school ahead of this season. Tennessee announced in January that Cade Mays had officially joined the program.

The NCAA granted Mays a waiver to gain immediate eligibility, but the offensive tackle is awaiting a decision from the SEC. Gregory P. Isaacs, who represented Mays in his appeal to the NCAA, alluded to similar problems to those of Reese behind the scenes at Georgia.

"Because of a variety of factors, it was a toxic environment that did not support Cade Mays' well-being as a student-athlete," Isaacs told the Knoxville News Sentinel's Blake Toppmeyer. 

During a media call Tuesday, Smart said he couldn't go into specifics on Reese's allegations.

"Unfortunately, I'm not able to respond to that," he told reporters. "In due time, it'll play itself out, but it's not something I'm allowed to comment on."