Urban Meyer has apologized to an Ohio State LGBT group for the Buckeyes' policy of punishing "loafing" players with lavender practice jerseys, a practice the group says is offensive.
Meyer addressed the issue in his March 1 letter to "Scarlet and Gay," an OSU LGBT alumni society, and promised the jerseys would be replaced by those of a different color.
"Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding the purple mesh pullovers," Meyer said in a copy of the the letter obtained by OSU student newspaper The Lantern. "The use of purple was never intended to be used to offend anyone, but since it has, we have taken steps to change the color.
"Please accept our sincere apologies. We have core values of respect and honor within our program, and these are two principles that are central to my personal life, my coaching and to Ohio State and its athletics programs. Bias has absolutely no role in how we think or operate."
Until Scarlet and Gray's complaint, Ohio State players who decelerated during offseason conditioning drills had been given a single "loaf," with two loafs resulting in the player forced to wear one of the lavender pullovers. The group issued a letter to Meyer February 29 expressing its disappointment in the jerseys and asking Meyer to reconsider.
"Lavender is associated as a feminine color, so it deals with masculinity," Scarlet and Gay president Tim Valentine told The Lantern. "It would appear, if (lavender) was the color (of the mesh shirts), that the coaching team is trying to say, ‘If you are loafing, if you are not performing up to par then you are performing in a feminine way, and so we are going to label you with a color that makes you non-masculine.'"
Valentine was more than pleased with how Meyer responded to the group's concerns, however.
"(Meyer) had a very fast response," he said. (Meyer's letter was written only a day after receiving Scarlet and Gay's.) "That said to us as an organization that he did care and was concerned about this being offensive to the community and a reflection of something he did not stand for."
An Ohio State spokesman told the Lantern that while he did not know the new color of the new jerseys, he could confirm that the old lavender ones were no longer being used.
Meyer has seemingly done no wrong since becoming the Buckeyes' new head coach, and this incident won't -- and shouldn't -- change that perception. Putting aside the issue of whether Scarlet and Gay was justified in taking offense or not, as soon as they did, there was no benefit to Meyer digging in his heels over a triviality like one and turning it into a wider public issue; instead, by immediately offering an apology and changing the policy, he's likely earned some brownie points within the larger campus community and kept the Buckeyes' spring focus squarely on on-field improvement over off-field controversies.
It's not the kind of decision that's going to help him win another national title. But it is the sort of decision that helps show why Meyer has been such a smashing success as a college football coach, and why he's likely to continue that success at Ohio State.
Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.