Urban Meyer and Ohio State: What we know so far

Summer Cartwright
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes arrive at Michigan Stadium before their game against Michigan Wolverines on November 25, 2017. [Kyle Robertson\ Dispatch]

Ohio State University announced Wednesday that head football coach Urban Meyer would be placed on paid leave while the school investigates what he knew about allegations of domestic violence involving a former assistant coach.

In a report published online by a former ESPN staffer Brett McMurphy, Courtney Smith detailed the allegations involving her husband Zach Smith. The report came a little more than a week after Courtney Smith filed a civil protection order against Zach Smith. He was fired July 23, three days after the protection order was filed.

Here’s what we know so far:

Ohio State is investigating

The only details released about the investigation are its focus: “supporting our players and on getting the truth as expeditiously as possible.”

During the investigation, Meyer will receive paid leave, an action that he said he agreed upon with Athletic Director Gene Smith, saying in a statement that the time away will allow the team “to conduct training camp with minimal distraction.”

>>Read more: Urban Meyer placed on paid administrative leave

Urban Meyer's relationship with Zach Smith

Zach Smith’s grandfather is Earle Bruce, a former Ohio State football coach who hired Meyer in 1986 as an assistant. Meyer thought of Bruce as a second father, and watched Zach Smith grow up.

Zach Smith was a walk-on at Bowling Green while Meyer was a coach, and served as an intern to Meyer’s Florida team.

After spending five seasons with Meyer at Florida, Zach was an assistant at Marshall in 2010 and Temple in 2011. Meyer and Smith were reunited the following season when Meyer returned to coaching at Ohio State.

Of Meyer’s original 2012 Ohio State staff, Zach Smith was the last remaining up until his firing.

>>Read more: Love of football stuck with Earle Bruce's grandson

The abuse allegations

At least nine domestic dispute reports by the Powell police department have included Courtney or Zach Smith’s names. Zach Smith has never been convicted of domestic violence.

The first documented time Zach Smith allegedly physically abused his wife was June 21, 2009 in Gainesville, Fla. Courtney Smith, then 24, was 8-10 weeks pregnant. Zach Smith was arrested after the incident.

On Oct. 25, 2015, Courtney and Zach were separated. Zach came by her house, an argument ensued and then Courtney said he assaulted her. A report with the Powell police was filed on Oct. 26, 2015.

On Nov. 9, 2015, a menacing and stalking charge was filed against Zach Smith.

In July 2018, Courtney Smith filed a civil protection order against him.

>>Read more: Ryan Smith fired amid domestic violence allegations

Meyer says he knew of 2009 abuse

At a Big Ten football media gathering last week, Meyer said he was aware of a 2009 domestic battery charge Courtney Smith filed against Zach Smith.

He said he and his wife, Shelley, advised the couple to seek counseling.

Meyer says he didn’t know of 2015 abuse

At the same media gathering, Meyer said he had no knowledge of a 2015 incident in which Powell police were called to Courtney Smith’s home.

“I was never told about anything. Never anything came to light. I never had a conversation about it. So I know nothing about that. The first I heard about it was last night,” Meyer said. “I asked people back at the office to call and see what happened, and they came back and said they know nothing about it.”

Shelley Meyer allegedly texted with Courtney Smith about abuse

In the first-published report, Courtney Smith says she texted with Shelley Meyer about the abuse. Screenshots of the alleged messages show conversations detailing whether Courtney Smith filed a restraining order.

“Shelley said she was going to have to tell Urban,” Courtney Smith told the website Stadium in a taped interview. “I said, ‘That’s fine. You should tell Urban. We can’t have somebody like this coaching young men.’”

In the same taped interview, Courtney Smith said she believes Urban Meyer knew.

“I do believe he knew and instead he chose to believe the abuser and enable the abuser,” Courtney Smith said.

Zach Smith’s attorney says he didn’t tell Urban

Zach Smith refused to tell Meyer of the 2018 trespassing incident, among others, his attorney Bradley Koffel said in a text message to The Dispatch on Wednesday.

“I now understand why Zach compartmentalized the info — to protect Urban,” Koeffel said. “You cannot impute every family argument involving an employee and his wife to the CEO of a company or the head coach of a large football program.

Meyer's contract

Meyer’s $8.49 million contract runs through Jan. 31, 2023. According to the agreement, he must "promptly report to Ohio State's Title IX Coordinator for Athletics any known violations of Ohio State's Sexual Misconduct Policy (including but not limited to sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, intimate violence and stalking) that involve any student, faculty or staff."

Ryan Day is interim coach

Offensive coordinator Ryan Day will serve as acting coach throughout the investigation. Former Ohio State receiver Brian Hartline is the interim wide receivers coach, replacing Zach Smith.

Day will lead the team when fall camp begins Friday. For now, media access has been shutdown to all coaches and players.

>>Read more: Ryan day will serve as interim coach


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