Ohio State coaching legend Urban Meyer is suspended for three games for neglecting to act on domestic abuse charges against his former assistant Zack Smith for alleged physical abuse of his wife.
Smith worked for Meyer for nearly three decades, a period that was marked by misconduct that was largely overlooked.
Smith was the grandson of Meyer’s father-figure and mentor coach, OSU’s Earle Smith.
Meyer has won three national titles at two schools. His contract from Ohio State will pay him an average of $8.49 million per year for five years. He is the nation’s second highest paid coach, behind Alabama’s Nick Saban.
For the last two of the three-game suspension, Meyer is allowed to conduct practices.
a quick look at the events leading up to the suspension
University of Florida in 2009
Courtney Smith was pregnant and thrown against the wall by her (then) husband Zack Smith. He was arrested but Courtney dropped the charges.
At the time, Zack was working for Urban Meyer as an assistant coach, at Unviersity of Florida.
Ohio State in 2015
Local police told Ohio State that they had been called to Zack Smith’s home for domestic violence complaints. The Ohio State athletic director notified Coach Meyer that Zach Smith was under investigation and could be arrested at any time.
Also at this time, Courtney Smith was texting Urban Meyer’s wife the pics of bruises that she says her husband gave her.
A Columbus reporter reveals that police had been dispatched to Zack Smith’s home twice in 2015 for domestic abuse. This leads to the dismissal of Zack Smith from the Ohio State coaching staff.
At Big Ten media days, Urban Meyer is asked about the 2015 charges against Smith and he tells the reporter he didn’t know about it. He also said had he known, he would’ve fired Smith in 2015.
Urban Meyer also claims not to have known about the texts between his wife and Courtney Smith (including the pics of bruises). Yet, an assistant reports Meyer asked how to wipe his cell phone clean of old messages. When investigators review his phone, there are no messages older than an year.
But, Courtney Smith had saved those texts. She sent them to reporter Brett McMurphy, who posted them on Facebook. These texts seem to suggest Meyer might’ve known about the abuse for years.
In response to the post by McMurphy, Meyer is suspended and a university investigation is launched.
Investigators found that Meyer and the Ohio State athletic director did not inform the school’s compliance department as per school rules which are included in their employment contract. Instead, they simply waited for police to finish their investigation that ultimately produced no criminal charges.
So, while Meyer did not use proper channels by neglecting to report abuse allegations to the school, there was not an effort to cover up–so the conclusion goes.