Urban Meyer receives 3-game suspension, apologizes to Buckeye Nation

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Coach Urban Meyer has been suspended until September 2 and for the first three games of the 2018 football season and Athletic Director Gene Smith is suspended without pay August 31 through September 16.

The Ohio State University held a conference Wednesday evening at the Longaberger Alumni House in regards to the investigation of allegations that Meyer failed to act appropriately rgarding alleged abuse by Zach Smith of his former wife. President Michael V. Drake, Mary Jo White, Gene Smith, and Urban Meyer all participated in the conference, commenting on the investigation and the university's findings.

Ohio State released a statement saying, "Although neither Urban Meyer nor Gene Smith condoned or covered up the alleged domestic abuse by Zach Smith, they failed to take sufficient management action relating to Zach Smith’s misconduct and retained an Assistant Coach who was not performing as an appropriate role model for OSU student-athletes.  Permitting such misconduct to continue is not consistent with the values of the University and reflects poorly on Coach Meyer, Athletic Director Smith, and the University.  Their handling of this matter did not exhibit the kind of leadership and high standards that we expect of our Athletic Director, Head Coach, Assistant Coaches and all on the football staff.  Urban Meyer is suspended through September 2, 2018, and for the games on September 1, 8 and 15 without pay. Gene Smith is suspended without pay from August 31-September 16."

The investigation centered around what Meyer knew and did about allegations of abuse against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who was fired July 23 after his ex-wife sought a protective order.

Courtney Smith alleged her husband shoved her against a wall and put his hands around her neck in 2015, one of several alleged domestic incidents involving the couple. The Smiths separated in June 2015 and divorced in 2016 and Zach Smith has never been charged criminally for abuse.

Continuing coverage of this story here

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:36 pm

Meyer: “This has been a learning experience.  I am a different person now than I was in 2009, 2012.  My awareness of domestic violence has — it’s very serious — my awareness has grown.  I will be very cautious.”  “I will not make any hiring decisions without complete and open dialogue with Gene.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:35 pm

Meyer: “Ultimately I am responsible for everyone’s behavior in the football department.  There was some behavior that was going on that I was unaware of, that I should’ve been aware of and I support our president’s decision.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:34 pm

Drake: “The goal of a university is to learn things, to teach things, and to do better.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:34 pm

Drake: “I think it’s fair to say that we tried to do a good job to handle that.” (regarding ongoing diving coach investigation)

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:30 pm

Meyer to his team: “I have very good players and a very good staff.” “I love them dearly.” “I look forward to watching them continue to grow and to get updates.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:29 pm

AD Smith: “The reality is, yes, I was the first one to have been contacted about the allegation at the time.” “My failure as an administrator was not to include others.” “I failed in that regard.” “At the end of the day I should’ve included compliance.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:28 pm

Drake: “To be fair, we looked at the findings and we considered the range of options that might be available and then worked hard to find a place that was just, fair, and appropriate.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:27 pm

AD Smith: “I had a conversation with our HR person today around hiring practices.”  “We need to expand the background check, and the reality is we can go deeper in certain situations.” “We need to be more thorough so hopefully this never happens again.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:25 pm

Meyer: “I was very disappointed that Zach had not shared this with me.” “I made it very clear that you keep me posted and alert me of any situation.” 

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:23 pm

Meyer: “As a head coach you are ultimately responsible for everyone’s behavior.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:23 pm

AD Smith said Urban Meyer came to the decision that he wanted to terminate Zach Smith due to multiple incidents throughout Smith’s career at Ohio State.

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:22 pm

Meyer: “I trust and support our President.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:21 pm

Pres. Drake: “The discussion today was with our entire board.  There were many people involved…we wanted to be fair, equitable, just, appropriate and we work to refine our decisions, our actions to the best that we could to achieve these goals.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:20 pm

Meyer: “Most of what I know about Zach Smith is work related … my biggest regret is that I wish I had done more.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:19 pm

AD Smith: “I am very supportive of the decisions that have been made.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:19 pm

AD Smith: “I have huge regret for my inability to be an effective leader in this situation.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:17 pm

Meyer: “The suspensions are tough but I fully accept them.  I wish I could go back and make different decisions but I can’t.”

“I will do better.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:17 pm

Meyer: “I want to apologize to the Buckeye Nation.  I followed my heart and not my head.”

“I should have demanded more from Zach Smith and recognized red flags.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:16 pm

Meyer: “I am fully aware that I am ultimately responsible for this situation.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:15 pm

Ad Smith says he takes full responsibility for his role in the investigation.  He says “I sincerely apologize to Buckeye Nation and the student athletes for the situation we are in today.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:14 pm

AD Smith: “I fully support the findings of the report and subsequent actions.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:13 pm

Pres. Drake says they issued their investigative findings this evening. Based on the investigative findings they believe Urban Meyer did not and does not encourage domestic abuse. However, he believes that Meyer and AD Smith did not take sufficient action regarding the allegations and did not uphold the university’s standards regarding domestic abuse allegations.

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:10 pm

All findings will be expressed in detail in the university’s written report.

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:09 pm

They say though he denied knowledge of the 2015 allegations, “Coach Meyer did not deliberately lie.”

Natasha Anderson August 22, 20189:08 pm

Coach Urban Meyer & Athletic Director Gene Smith were informed about the 2015 Zach Smith investigation and closely monitored the investigation.  The university says Meyer was not fully accurate on Big 10 Media Days regarding what he knew about the 2015 allegations.