Ohio State placed head coach Urban Meyer on paid administrative leave Wednesday while it investigates whether or not Meyer knew of allegations of domestic violence against recently fired receivers coach Zach Smith.
FILE PHOTO: Nov 4, 2017; Iowa City, IA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer reacts during the fourth quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa won 55-24. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
A report by college football reporter Brett McMurphy earlier in the day contradicted Meyer’s recent comments at Big Ten media day that he was unaware of allegations against Smith. The report said Meyer was aware that Zach Smith was accused of domestic violence by his wife, Courtney Smith, since at least Oct. 2015.
Offensive coordinator Ryan Day, who also coaches quarterbacks, will serve as acting head coach during the investigation.
“The university is conducting an investigation into these allegations,” Ohio State said in a statement. “During the inquiry, Urban Meyer will be on paid administrative leave. Ryan Day will serve as acting football coach during the investigation.
“We are focused on supporting our players and on getting to the truth as expeditiously as possible.”
Meyer discussed the situation with athletic director Gene Smith and said he was on board with the decision by the university to place him on leave.
“Gene and I agree that being on leave during this inquiry will facilitate its completion,” Meyer said in a statement. “This allows the team to conduct training camp with minimal distraction. I eagerly look forward to the resolution of this matter.”
At last week’s Big Ten media days, Meyer claimed to know nothing about the 2015 allegation against Zach Smith.
“I was never told about anything,” Meyer said. “Never anything came to light, never had a conversation about it. So I know nothing about it.”
Meyer termed firing Zach Smith, which happened July 23, as a “very tough call.”
Wednesday’s report included text messages between Courtney Smith, Shelley Meyer (Urban’s wife) and other coaches’ wives showing Urban Meyer was aware of the allegations. Courtney Smith also said that she sent photos of the abuse to Shelley Meyer.
In an interview with Stadium posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Courtney Smith said she is unsure whether Shelley Meyer actually told her husband about the abuse, but said the Meyers should have taken responsibility.
“When somebody is crying out for help, the coach, along with the coach’s wife, have a duty … they have a duty to do something, to help,” Courtney Smith said in the interview.
Zach Smith also was arrested for battery of Courtney Smith in 2009 when he was on Urban Meyer’s staff at Florida, an incident Meyer said last week he reported to supervisors at the time. Zach Smith wasn’t charged in the case.
—Field Level Media