Linebacker K'Vaughan Pope dismissed from Ohio State football team following outburst

Joey Kaufman
The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State linebacker K’Vaughan Pope has been dismissed from the team following an emotional outburst on the sideline during the Buckeyes’ 59-7 win over Akron on Saturday night.

In a statement released a day after the incident, coach Ryan Day said Pope will remain on scholarship for the rest of the fall semester and have use of various student-athlete support services.

Pope was escorted to the locker room by a team official after a heated exchange with coaches took place during the second quarter. His frustrations reached a point at which he removed his gloves and threw them into the Ohio Stadium stands before heading to a tunnel.

The incident appeared to be precipitated by dwindling playing time. Pope was in a position to substitute into the game on defense for the Buckeyes before he was told to stay off the field.

Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker K'Vaughan Pope (36) stretches during football training camp at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021.

A senior who had been looking to seize a starting role prior to this season, he appeared only on special teams in a season-opening win at Minnesota, then saw just 31 combined snaps on defense in the following weeks against Oregon and Tulsa, according to Pro Football Focus' tally.

Shortly after leaving the game, he tweeted an expletive at Ohio State, as well as another message that read, “good lucc (sic) to my teammates.” Both were later deleted.

K'Vaughan Pope: 'Last night I let my emotions get the best of me'

Following his dismissal on Sunday, Pope posted an apology on Twitter.

“Last night I let my emotions get the best of me,” he wrote. “For that I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and Buckeye Nation. I made a mistake and know that I need to be better and do better. I’m going to take this time to reflect and work on my mental well-being.”

Pope is the second veteran linebacker to leave the Buckeyes within the past week after fellow senior Dallas Gant put his name in the NCAA transfer portal last Wednesday.

Their departures leave Ohio State thin on depth at the position with only six linebackers on scholarship available.

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Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at jkaufman@dispatch.com or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.