Otis Reese

2019 photo of former UGA football player Otis Reese.

Credit: UGA Athletics

Otis Reese, a former Georgia defensive back, is fighting for immediate eligibility at Ole Miss after his January transfer.

Reese posted a letter to Twitter on Tuesday night alleging that he was manipulated by head coach Kirby Smart and his staff, adding that Georgia opposed his request to the NCAA for eligibility to play this season.

Reese also said in the tweet that his time at Georgia took a “devastating mental toll” on him because of “aggressive” harassment by campus police. He also recounted racist behavior by students on campus and said there was a lack of response by the UGA coaching staff.

“From my first moments I stepped on campus,” Reese wrote. “It was not what I expected. The racist events that I kept experiencing weighed on me heavily and seemed never ending.”


Tom Mars, a lawyer who has become involved in many of the eligibility cases around college football players, responded to Reese’s letter. Mars runs Mars Law Firm, based out of Atlanta and Rogers, Arkansas.

“Kirby Smart’s unequivocal support would have caused the NCAA to rubber stamp Otis’ waiver request,” Mars wrote. “But whether it’s Cade Mays, Ohio State’s star QB, or Otis Reese, Coach Smart always seems to focus on pleasing the angry, retaliatory UGA fans.”

On Wednesday morning, Georgia responded with a statement penned by the athletic association.

“We cannot comment on student-athlete eligibility matters due to federal privacy laws,” the statement reads. “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 played in nine games over two seasons for the Bulldogs, recording 16 total tackles.

UGA head coach Kirby Smart

UGA head coach Kirby Smart said he could not comment on the allegations. / Associated Press

Credit: John Bazemore

The allegations by Reese come shortly after Smart was asked about former Georgia offensive tackle Cade Mays. Mays will return to Athens to face the Bulldogs on Oct. 3 after receiving his eligibility waiver. Mars, Mays’ lawyer, said Georgia had a “toxic environment.”

“Unfortunately, I’m not able to respond to that, so in due time that will play itself out,” Smart said. “But it’s not something I’m allowed to comment on.”

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with the Macon Telegraph.