Two camps, entrenched.
Mr. Stein: As an OSU alum and member of Varsity O, I find it reprehensible that Urban Meyer, Gene Smith and President Michael V. Drake have not been relieved of their respective responsibilities.
These men had an opportunity to do the upright thing but instead diminished the university and lowered its standards for their own self-aggrandizement.
All three will soon be gone but never forgotten, and then maybe the university will re-establish some of its lost integrity. No matter how costly, they should be bought off and released forthwith.
Joseph F. Arnold, Gig Harbor, Wash.
Mr. Stein: I follow OSU football, and I like to see them win, but I’m not a rabid fan.
Having said that, I want to say that the recent investigation of Urban Meyer and Gene Smith was so wrong. It was the cart before the horse. Shouldn’t it be determined that there was a crime before there was an investigation?
Zach Smith has never been convicted of anything. He may be guilty as sin, but who knows at this point? This mockery of justice is so un-American. Guilty and having to prove yourself innocent. So sad.
Jim Hackworth, Columbus
Editor: Apart from morality, Mr. Meyer seems to have had no compunction to giving large monetary rewards for behavior that would have put any employee in line for immediate dismissal. And his apology to "Buckeye Nation" was as myopic and arrogant as it gets.
As an alumnus, it seems clear that OSU not only does not need my financial support. Perhaps the state is handing over cash with a blindfold.
Stephen Spurgeon, Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Mr. Stein: After reading (last) Sunday’s Mailbox, I was astounded that not a single writer mentioned Urban Meyer’s colossal failures as a coach and personnel manager as documented in the investigative report.
Domestic abuse is a serious matter, but I am referring to Urban’s abrogation of his responsibility to his student-athletes to hire the most capable assistant coaches who must also serve as role models. Or at least coaches who come to practice on time and aggressively recruit new players to better the team.
After his divorce, Zach Smith was late to practice on multiple occasions and lied about being on recruiting trips. Considering that the alleged abuse occurred in October 2015 and the divorce in 2016, is it merely a coincidence that the passing game was pathetic both seasons?
Most fans attributed this to the departure of Tom Herman and the failings of J.T. Barrett. After the 31-0 debacle against Clemson, several offensive coaches were removed, but not Zach Smith! If you are looking for grounds for termination, this failure seems pretty clear to me.
Now that Urban has appropriately apologized to Courtney Smith, the players and coaching staff of the 2015 and ’16 teams also deserve an apology from Urban for allowing this cancer to fester in their midst.
Michael O’Connell, Columbus
Editor: Urban Meyer is a football coach. He is not a psychologist, not a social worker, not a mom, not a prison warden, not a babysitter, not a priest. He’s a football coach.
None of this was or is Meyer’s responsibility. Zach Smith’s marriage is no one’s responsibility but Zach Smith’s. It’s not Gene Smith’s responsibility, either.
Meyer is trying to play this PR game. National uproar? Nonsense. None of us care whether there’s a national uproar. This is just another example of the media stirring the coals, and yet another example of The Dispatch, now with flaming liberal ownership based in Manhattan, having turned from Ohio’s Greatest Home Newspaper into an Ohio Valley version of the National Enquirer.
Stop throwing gasoline on a dead and meaningless ember. This penchant in U.S. mass media for incendiary sociopolitical tactics is why we elected Donald Trump and why we are thrilled that he’s pushing back. You’re just plain wrong. Let it go.
Chip Elliott, Columbus
Editor: Is it safe to assume that former OSU trustee Jeffrey Wadsworth, who has been reported leaving the recent session halfway through, will be paid half of what trustees earn for attending such sessions?
Apparently, he had made up his mind and saw no reason to stay. I’m not holding my breath. What class.
Dan Bear, Westerville
Editor: I don’t believe the action taken by OSU went far enough.
Those appointed over Meyer, especially those who imposed this penalty, all conference officials, supervisors, managers, leaders, editors, reporters, writers, authors, authorities, politicians, teachers, drivers, secretaries, judges, lawyers, executives, other coaches, subordinates, neighbors, friends, families, in-laws, acquaintances or anyone else who knew anything about this issue should be suspended too — no, fired!
Because the buck(s) stops there, doesn’t it? They all should have taken some action but were neglectful in other people’s business!
Mark Hiles, Brandon, Fla.
Ray: I’ve been following the Urban Meyer/Gene Smith debacle. Disgusting. Since no one can seem to express remorse, perhaps the university should donate the suspended pay of Meyer and Smith to a battered women’s shelter.
There are plenty of organizations in the city that could extend their reach. Take that money out of the football program and do some actual good.
Nancy Smeltzer, Columbus
Ray: Let me see if I’ve got this straight. Zach Smith could have been fired for cause for any number of football-related issues on any number of occasions. But wasn’t.
Then, his estranged ex-wife makes public three-year-old domestic abuse allegations that the police couldn’t substantiate.
Zach Smith then does get fired, and a subsequent “independent” investigation admonishes the football program, saying “they shouldn’t rely solely on police investigations.”
Really? That’s how it works? At the conclusion of police investigations Ohio State should investigate things again? Is this new? Do we all have to do this?
Also, does it work both ways? If Zach Smith was arrested and charged and prosecuted in 2015, would Ohio State have been ethically duty bound to independently investigate that conclusion?
The suggestion seems to be that, as a society, we can’t trust the police. I guess I’m just not that cynical, I trust the police. Sorry, I just do.
Bryan Willford, Columbus
Ray: Since The Ohio State University has now joined the #MeToo finger-pointing club, it has punished assistant coach, head coach and athletic director. Why stop there? Why do the university president and board of trustees escape scrutiny?
If Ohio State is going to move forward with a clean slate, satisfying the finger-pointers and following the politically correct course, the truly honorable thing to do would be for the president of the university and each member of the board submit their resignations.
Too harsh? Not at all. They hired the “wrongdoers.” The ultimate responsibility is theirs! Deal with it.
Daniel D. Connor, Columbus
Editor: Finally a voice of reason (Rob Oller’s Tuesday column) about Urban Meyer. I believe Meyer is an honest and caring man whose character has been forever maligned. It would be very understandable for him to look at other options.
The hometown newspaper was one of the first to rush to judgment, and then demonstrate the term “piling on.” So disappointing.
Molly Kent, Upper Sandusky
Editor: Dick Alexander, in a recent letter to the editor, compared the Urban Meyer investigation to the Robert Mueller probe. To say it was beyond a stretch is an understatement.
Comparing the two does justice to neither. First, look at the Mueller probe. While investigating the involvement of the Trump campaign’s role regarding Russia interfering with the 2016 election they came across other crimes committed by members of the Trump campaign and administration.
Mr. Alexander basically infers that those that committed the crimes should go unpunished because the crimes were not part of the original investigation. It’s kind of like saying somebody committed a bank robbery but in the course of the investigation you found out they murdered someone. In Mr. Alexander’s world, you would not be tried for the murder.
As the head coach of OSU, Meyer represents the university to the public. The actions he and his staff take are a direct reflection on the university. By his failure to report possible domestic violence by one of his staff members, he put the football program above doing the right thing.
To me and many others, that makes him complicit. He let his personal feelings for one of his mentors cloud his judgment, and that is unacceptable. If anything, he got off easy; most others in that situation would have lost their jobs.
Mr. Alexander also pointed out about demonstrations from radical groups. If he is referring to people that demonstrated in regards to the Mueller probe or the Urban Meyer investigation, who for the most part make up a wide spectrum of citizens, as radical groups, then just perhaps he might be a tad out of touch with today’s American society.
Russ Racine, Hilliard
Editor: Was Zach Smith’s termination for just cause? Yes. Obviously, he has some serious shortcomings, personally and professionally, that I hope he addresses in a positive manner. I wish him and his family the best in this difficult journey. They will all need our support.
Did Urban Meyer and Gene Smith do all they could? No. But how many of us can claim perfection in our response to situations that are stressful and outside of our normal realm of responsibility?
I’m not condoning misconduct. I’m just saying, humans don’t always make the best responses when pressured. Does that mean we crucify someone for a mistake? I hope not. I think everyone has the ability to improve when given the chance.
I am sure that from now on, that domestic violence/abuse will become a recurring topic of Real Life Wednesdays for the football team. If it isn’t, I and many others will be disappointed. Hopefully, this is adopted by all of the sports programs.
Speaking of disappointment, what about the lack of information from the Powell police department. I have to believe that the investigative committee would have requested information from them about their investigation, but that was never reported in the final report. Why not?
Now is the time to move forward. Don't focus on what happened in the past; focus on the growth potentials and how we become better. That is what is important!
Scott V. Alexander, Columbus
Editor: I was always taught that it is not what you do when someone is watching, but what you do when no one is, that defines your character. Maybe this principle should be the yardstick by which we measure the actions of Urban Meyer disregarding the marital abuse of his assistant coach.
There seems to be a well-rooted belief that football coaches, as long as they produce wins, do not need to answer to anyone for their actions. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case.
All one needs to do is to see not only what Meyer has done, but also what other college football coaches, like Joe Paterno from Penn State, to ask why. Has their ability to coach made them bigger than life that they do not have to live by rules?
Is their employer not accountable? I know that the impact of not having a winning team will reduce the income to Ohio State University but I also know that no one should be above the law.
So to the Ohio State University board of trustees, I ask: Do you want OSU to be known as a respected, reputable center of academics or for its football winnings?
Manuel Martinez, Delaware
Editor: Many thanks to the two editorials in the (Aug. 24) Dispatch from Michael Arace and Rob Oller regarding the Urban Meyer event.
I appreciate their views and feelings regarding how the spouse was not considered in the comments made by anyone, including the president of OSU. Coach Meyer's communique the next day was a bit of a dollar short.
Andrew Workum, Columbus
Editor: The social issues may never go away for Urban Meyer — or, for that matter, Jim Tressel’s and Joe Paterno’s legacy.
The question is, why were these great coaches put in this position in the first place? Were they put there to coach or resolve social issues or both? Let’s face it: If you are in a position of authority, you are going to protect the people close to you; you are going to be biased to a certain degree.
Did Joe Paterno have some concerns for Jerry Sandusky at one time? Didn’t Jim Tressel have some concerns for his players that sold equipment for tattoos? Didn’t Urban Meyer care about Zach Smith at one time?
For the reasons of bias, there should be a unbiased watchdog committee installed at universities that have a major sports program to monitor situations that don’t pertain to football coaching issues.
Take the coaches out of the social issues. Let social issues be monitored by a watchdog committee. The watchdog then reports to the Board of Trustees, where the final, unbiased decisions can be made.
Howard Kessler, Weirton, W.Va.
Mr. Stein: I’ve been a licensed private investigator and fraud investigator since 1986, and one thing I’ve learned over the years and through numerous mistakes is to not to jump to conclusions and “point fingers/make accusations” before all due diligence is exercised.
I am able to listen to numerous national radio prognosticators who offer their feedback on Coach Meyer’s “lack of action, cover-up and dismissal” of the reported allegations on Zach Smith. I am curious to know what exactly is Meyer really supposed to do — wrongfully terminate an employee based on accusations?
Yes, maybe he should have looked into this further. But really, given this man’s hectic schedule and responsibilities over 300 to 400 people (coaches, players, recruits, etc.) do you really think this man should have done more? If I was in his same position, I would have done the same.
Trust law enforcement to do their job and then act accordingly. Even if Zach Smith was arrested, just cause may have been justifiable for coach Meyer and Gene Smith’s suspension. Last time I checked, “innocent until proven guilty.”
If all the guy did was fib to the media, it’s a GD shame that we hold our college coaches to a higher standard than our own president.
Tom Benik, Hilliard
Editor: The USA was founded by individuals seeking to escape persecution. The “benefit of the doubt” is innocent until proven guilty. “He said, she said” charges of abuse are common in divorce. Abuse is not “getting your way” or a “difference of opinion.” Police, doctors, nurses were on the front lines, until now.
But, now in the “era of political correctness,” Meyer did not act soon enough. So “he said, she said” became “when he knew, what he knew.” How is that relevant to anything?
Now, Meyer should have been proactive, ahead of the police, criminal charges and restraining orders. What legal rights can Meyer use to know the behind-closed-doors activities? I guess Meyer and the AD should have peeked through the windows. Meyer would probably fit on the AD’s shoulders for a two-story.
Meyer was fined for giving him the “benefit of the doubt” when he should have used guilty until proven innocent. Ask former California congressman Gary Condit what it is like to be tried and hung for murder by the press.
Media-run political correctness is a nice way to disguise persecution and bypass privacy. The Gestapo was politically correct … I think. They had the guns to prove it. Education is about leadership … except when it is not.
I think the decision was ridiculous! But I will have my final ruling in two weeks. Stupid takes time.
Brent Umstead, Lafayette, La.
Editor: I disagree with nurse Laurel Hook’s Mailbox assertion that Shelley Meyer should be fired for shirking a duty to report alleged domestic violence “up the ladder” upon receiving texts from Courtney Smith.
First, she had no duty because Courtney was not a patient seen in a medical setting and treated by Shelley where a proper medical record of allegations could be evaluated.
Excerpts from page 9 of the Ohio Domestic Violence Protocol for Health Care Providers are also cogent. “Ohio does not have an explicit law requiring health care providers to report suspected instances of domestic violence. If the presenting injuries do not mandate reporting according to the ORC, health care providers should only contact law enforcement at the patient's request.”
Editorial suggestions that “keeping quiet about it isn't an acceptable option” and “turning away is shameful” without strongly stating the domestic victim’s right to privacy and autonomy is dismaying.
What to do?
First, encourage the victim to go to a health care professional or ER to get the allegations and injuries in an official medical record, realizing that in many cases, mandatory, with some exceptions, reporting to law enforcement will only be done when you’re ready.
Second, call or visit a domestic violence resource. Perhaps The Dispatch could publish a few.
Third, encourage victim to report to law enforcement, the only legal rung of the ladder available, when they are ready.
I am so sorry, Shelley, that inaccurate and disparaging remarks have been made about you, and I am sure that you empathized with Courtney Smith — more so than any of the omnipresent pundits. Thank you for helping her.
Richard A. Lutes, Valdosta, Ga.
Editor: Reading of Urban Meyer’s wife Shelley employed in the OSU College of Nursing was a real eye-opener. Given Mr. Meyer’s multimillion-dollar contract, that household needs a second income to make ends meet?
I don't doubt Mrs. Meyer’s qualifications, but, sorry folks, she doesn’t need a job. Even if they divorced, she would receive a huge settlement.
I call upon Mrs. Meyer to resign so that position can be given to someone who truly needs the income.
Jerry Nashel, Vero Beach, Fla.
Editor: Having Drake discipline Smith and Meyer is like having the fox guard the hen house — he is as guilty as they are.
Joe Burrow will be in New York for the Heisman and Dwayne Haskins will be watching at home. Hit save.
Mark Passmore, Circleville
Editor: I am not a big fan of Michael Arace. However, I thoroughly enjoyed his “crotchety columnist” article of Aug. 22. He was spot on.
As a 80-year-old sports fan, I long for the days when baseball players wore knee pants and high stirrup socks in lieu of looking like they are posing for GQ magazine with pants down over their shoes.
Also, 10 or 15 years ago, I never thought I would see football players wearing shorts in lieu of pants and basketball players wearing Capri pants in lieu of shorts. I wonder what we can expect in the future?
Wayne C. Glasgow, Reynoldsburg
Editor: Regarding Mychal Kendricks’ release from the Browns, what a shame. The poor guy got in trouble for doing the wrong thing!
He should have taken drugs or beat up his wife or girlfriend. Then he would have probably been suspended for a game or two and could have continued on to becoming a millionaire without any trouble!
Albert Moller, Lancaster