Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has been suspended three games without pay by the school’s Board of Trustees. Meyer has been on administrative leave since August 1st, while the school investigated his level of knowledge of domestic abuse allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith.
Meyer had fired Smith in late July, right before Big 10 Media Days, he says, once he found about the allegations. Meyer has denied that he had previously known about the allegations prior to the firing. But college football reporter Brett McMurphy detailed years of allegations against Smith, including a story from Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney Smith, that Meyer, and his wife, both knew about the alleged abuse going back to 2015.
After McMurphy’s report went public, Meyer backtracked on his original denials. He issued a statement saying when he became aware of the allegations, he followed proper protocol and notified the Ohio State athletic department. A clause in Meyer’s contract mandates that he report such issues to the school’s Title IX coordinator. The school’s investigation does not draw definitive conclusions as to whether Meyer did that.
After meeting for much of the day to deliberate over the findings of the investigative committee, the Board of Trustees issued its punishment and included a two-week suspension without pay for athletic director Gene Smith.
Meyer read from a prepared statement at a news conference announcing the decision.
“I am fully aware that I am ultimately responsible for this situation that has harmed the university as a whole and the department of athletics and our football program and Buckeye Nation. I followed my heart and not my head. I fell short in pursuing full information because at each juncture I gave Zach Smith the benefit of the doubt.
“As I reflect, my loyalty to his grandfather Earle Bruce, who was my mentor, likely impacted how I treated Zach over the years. I did not know everything about Zach Smith, what Zach Smith was doing, and I am pleased that the report made this very clear. However, I should have demanded more from him and recognized red flags.
“I did a poor job at media day. That’s a big reason why we’re here today. I was not being as complete or accurate as I should have been at media day and afterward. But there was no intent to mislead. My role is to set a good example and, in this instance,, I did not live up to the university’s standards.”
Meyer will miss home games against Oregon State and Rutgers and a neutral site game against TCU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. He will be allowed to return to practice to observe on September 3rd