Fired Ohio State assistant football coach Zach Smith said Friday in a radio interview that he never physically harmed his ex-wife and that Ohio State officials — including football coach Urban Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith — knew about 2015 domestic abuse allegations.

Zach Smith spoke publicly for the first time since his firing on July 23 about the allegations, the aftermath of which has put Meyer’s job in jeopardy. Soon after, ESPN aired an interview with Smith in which also said that if Meyer loses his job “it's flat wrong.”

>> Read more: Complete Coverage | Ohio State announces committee to investigate Urban Meyer

“I wasn’t a great husband,” Smith said on 105.7 The Zone. “We got divorced because of it. The only thing that needs to be cleared up is the fact there was never domestic abuse. I never hit her, never got arrested, never got charged. It got investigated twice and no charges came about because I didn’t do anything physically to harm her.”

Smith added that he and his ex-wife, Courtney, “had a volatile relationship. It was toxic and it needed to end. I’ve never committed domestic abuse against her; I had to defend myself sometimes, kind of restrain her.”

National college football reporter Brett McMurphy tweeted Friday evening what he said was a text exchange between Courtney and Zach Smith in which she refers to him twice "picking me up by my neck strangling me" and his replies include "I know!!!!" and "I'm so so sorry."

>> Read more: Urban Meyer releases first statement since Ohio State investigation began

Regarding photos that Courtney Smith released on Wednesday that showed bruises and abrasions, Zach Smith, “I don’t where those pictures are from.”

Smith said that Urban and Shelley Meyer counseled him and Courtney Smith in 2009 after an incident in which Zach Smith was arrested before charges were dropped. But in 2015, Smith said, his marriage was failing and he didn’t want to burden the Ohio State coach about it.

“I felt it was my private life and didn’t feel it was his problem to deal with because it was a marital problem I had,” Smith said.

 

But he said their marital issues were common knowledge among OSU football personnel.

Smith said that when he told Meyer in 2015 that he had not physically abused Courtney, Meyer said: "I swear to God, Zach, if I found out you hit her, you're done, you're fired."

Asked if he could explain why Meyer said in Chicago last week that he didn’t know about the 2015 allegations, Smith replied, “To be honest, that’s all confusing to me. When I heard he had said that at Big Ten media day, my initial response was that he was reacting to the storyline that was put out there that I was arrested on felonious domestic abuse, which never happened. I think to him it was like, ‘What?! He got arrested for a felony. I didn’t know about that.’ Because it didn’t happen.”

Smith said he was disappointed by his firing but understood that the “media uproar” would be an unfair distraction.

“It was a move they had to make,” he said. “I don’t think I deserved it. But I don’t think it was wrong.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

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