Ohio State Buckeye football coach Urban Meyer addresses media reports about his three-game suspension on Aug. 22 by university president Michael V. Drake concerning his actions taken against Zach Smith.
Suspended Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer took to Twitter on Friday to address media reports that, he said, “have not been correct and must be clarified.”
Meyer was given a three-game suspension on Aug. 22 by university president Michael V. Drake and the board of trustees after a two-week investigation into whether Meyer properly handled 2015 allegations of domestic abuse made by Courtney Smith against her ex-husband, Zach Smith, a former OSU assistant coach who was fired on July 23.
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In his statement, Meyer said he was not suspended for condoning Zach Smith’s alleged abuse, and added that investigators found he “did not lie” when confronted with questions about Smith on July 24 at Big Ten media days in Chicago.
Rather, Meyer said, his fault was for “not taking action sooner against a troubled employee.”
A summary of the investigative findings released by the university can be found here:
Also on Friday, Courtney Smith’s attorney released a statement that says a Powell police department narrative account of her allegations on Oct. 26, 2015, included one inaccuracy.
The last paragraph of the narrative says Courtney Smith told Powell police officer Ben Boruchowitz that Ohio State had previously sent an attorney to her house to convince her to drop charges against Zach Smith, saying it would “embarrass” the university.
In the statement, Julie Leveridge, Courtney Smith’s attorney, said the incident cited referred to a 2009 charge in Gainesville, Florida, in which Zach Smith was arrested for aggravated battery of Courtney Smith, who later dropped the charges. Meyer was head coach at the University of Florida at the time and Zach Smith was a program assistant.
Leveridge’s statement said attorney Hiram DeFries, a close associate of Meyer’s, met with Courtney Smith in Florida in an attempt to get her to drop the charges.
Meyer’s full statement can be found below:
While I stand by my apologies to Courtney Smith, her children and everyone else, there have been a number of things reported in the media about President Drake's decision and the Investigative Team's Report that have not been correct and must be clarified.
First, I was not suspended because I knew about or condoned Zach Smith's alleged domestic abuse. On domestic violence, here is what the Lead Investigator stated at the Press Conference: "Overall, Coach Meyer impressed us with a sincere commitment to the Respect for Women core value that he espouses and tries to instill in his players."
On domestic violence, here is what the Investigative Report concluded: "We believe [Coach Meyer], as did Zach Smith, that if [Coach Meyer] ever came to learn or believe that Zach Smith had physically abused his wife, Coach Meyer would have fired Zach Smith or any other coach on the spot."
President Drake expressly stated the reason for Coach Meyer's suspension at the August 22, 2018 Press Conference: "Based on the independent investigation, I want to state clearly that we believe Urban Meyer did not and does not condone domestic abuse. However, he did fail to take sufficient management action regarding Zach Smith and he was not as complete an accurate at Media Days and did not uphold the high standards and values of the university on that day. Therefore, Urban Meyer is suspended through September 2nd, 2018, and for the games on September 1st, 8th, and 15th."
Second, as the report found and President Drake said, I did not lie at Big Ten Media Days. Regarding Big 10 Media Days, the Investigative Report Found: "And we credit that Coach Meyer, in answering reporters' questions on July 24th was closely focused on erroneous reports that Zach Smith had been arrested on felony charges in 2015 which Coach Meyer had determined the night before not to have occurred. But his answer swept more broadly than the falsely reported arrest and Coach Meyer falsely stated he lacked knowledge of all relevant events regarding alleged domestic violence by Zach Smith in 2015. While those denials were plainly not accurate, Coach Meyer did not, in our view, deliberately lie." "[W]e do not find that Coach Meyer's misstatements on Big Ten Media Days were part of a deliberate cover-up for keeping Zach Smith on the coaching staff in the face of evidence of domestic violence by him that Coach Meyer or others in the Athletics Department credited.... He clearly misspoke and made misstatements, but the reasons that happened are complex. Coach Meyer did not, in our view, deliberately lie."
Third, my fault was in not taking action sooner against a troubled employee about his work-related issues.
Regarding my management of Zach Smith, the Lead Investigator stated: "The investigation identified multiple other examples of inappropriate conduct by Zach Smith while employed as an assistant football coach, some known by Coach Meyer and/or Gene Smith and others on the football staff. Coach Meyer and Athletic Director Smith's efforts to help Zach Smith overcome his personal issues went too far in allowing him to remain as an employee in the face of repeated misconduct."