Still awaiting word from the NCAA on his eligibility for this college football season, former Lee County star Otis Reese went on the offensive via social media Tuesday night.
Reese opened up about his transfer to Ole Miss from Georgia, claiming the Bulldogs are opposing his transfer to another SEC school. He also cited racism he experienced while on the team at Georgia as a reason for his transfer.
Ole Miss opens the season Saturday against Florida, but the NCAA hasn’t given Reese a verdict on his playing status. He tagged the NCAA, SEC and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey in his post.
“The reason I chose to transfer is because my 1 1/2 years at UGA took a devastating mental toll on me,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “From my first moments I stepped on Campus, it was not what I expected. The Racist events that I kept experiencing weighed on me heavily and seemed never ending.”
The University of Georgia responded to Reese’s allegations with a statement Wednesday morning.
“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,” Georgia’s statement said. “UGA disputes any suggestion that it maintains an unsafe, unsupportive, or racially insensitive environment.”
Reese pointed out multiple incidents, two involving police.
“I was pulled over and harassed by police offers, not once but twice,” Reese said. “The first time I was driving alone and the second time I was a passenger in a teammate’s car. 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. This type of harassment was a constant discussion around players throughout my time at UGA as many of my teammates were falsely arrested and harassed.
“Both of my times I was polite, respectful and compliant, but both these experiences left me shaken. I received tickets & citations.”
Reese also talked about issues with fellow students.
“One of my closest friends and teammates was called a nr by a white student-athlete. Another group of white classmates mocked slavery and pretended to whip each other,” he wrote. “These were two very public events. I didn’t want to be part of a campus where my classmates held that kind of hate in their hearts. None of these things were ever addressed by the coaches at UGA. There was literally nobody to speak to about these types of things without having fear of losing your position on the team.”
Reese, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound defensive back, was a four-star recruit out of Lee County who played in 11 of 14 games as a true freshman in 2018. He played in all 14 games last year, but wanted to leave Georgia in early October.
He claimed the decision to finish the season affected his eligibility this season, and that Georgia head coach Kirby Smart coerced him into playing the remainder of the year.
“When I chose to leave the team, I was led to believe by Coach Smart that if I finished the season and not “Let my team down” as he requested, he would support both my decision to transfer and my request to be immediately eligible (The NCAA has a text message from myself to Coach Smart which verifies my intent to leave on Oct. 4th of last season, in which I was manipulated to play the very next day, when I truly was at my darkest moment),” Reese posted.
Several Georgia players retweeted or liked Reese’s post, including Monty Rice, Malik Herring, Jermaine Johnson and Kearis Jackson. Jackson retweeted Reese’s post with the message: “I remember that night …… smh.”
I remember that night ...... smh https://t.co/H9pf9sqDs8— Kearis Jackson (@king_kearis) September 23, 2020
Reese isn’t the only Georgia transfer waiting on word from the NCAA. Offensive lineman Cade Mays, now at Tennessee, still hasn’t heard on his playing status.
Mays’ case already has played out publicly with his lawyer citing a “toxic environment” at Georgia.
Smart was asked about the Mays situation on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, I’m not able to respond to that,” Smart said. “In due time, it’ll play itself out, but it’s not something I’m allowed to comment on.”
In his post, Reese also praised his new coaches at Ole Miss for a more positive environment.
“Coach Kiffin and Ole Miss have been strong advocates against racism and have put in the work to change perceptions,” Reese said. “I’ve seen first-hand what genuine commitment to change looks like in Oxford and I’m excited to be a part of this program.”