Urban Meyer Suspended by Ohio State Amid Domestic Violence Scandal

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2018

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 29:  Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl against the USC Trojans in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on December 29, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Ohio State University suspended head football coach Urban Meyer for three games Wednesday after placing him on administrative leave.

Dan Hope of Eleven Warriors reported the news. Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch added some context to the punishment:

Bill Rabinowitz @brdispatch

Let me clarify again. He is fully suspended through the Oregon State game. Then for the Rutgers and TCU games, he can direct practice during the week but not coach on Saturday.

That means Meyer will return to the sidelines for Ohio State's Sept. 22 matchup with Tulane.

His suspension comes after Stadium's Brett McMurphy reported Meyer was aware of domestic abuse allegations against Zach Smith in 2015. Smith was an assistant on Meyer's staff prior to his dismissal on July 23.

Ohio State fired Smith after a judge granted his ex-wife an order of protection against him.

Meyer told reporters he had knowledge of an incident between Smith and his wife Courtney in 2009. Courtney Smith filed a domestic violence complaint before later dropping the issue. At the time, Zach Smith was an intern for Meyer at Florida.

"They were a young couple," Meyer said, per the Columbus Dispatch's Tim May. "Any time I get a phone call or something like that, I tell my boss, then I let the experts do their job. It came back to me what happened. We advised him in counseling, moved forward."

The Columbus Dispatch's Ray Stein reported police were called to Courtney Smith's home in Powell, Ohio, twice in the fall of 2015. The first incident involved an alleged dispute and the second was related to a report of menacing by stalking.

During Big Ten media days, Meyer indicated he had no prior knowledge of the allegations from 2015.

"I got a text last night that something happened in 2015, and there was nothing," he told reporters.

However, McMurphy reported Courtney Smith "provided text messages between her and the wives of Ohio State coaches—including Urban Meyer's wife, Shelley—showing Meyer's knowledge of the situation."

McMurphy included the content of a text exchange between Smith and Shelley Meyer in which Meyer asked Smith whether she had a restraining order against her husband.

McMurphy also highlighted a conversation between Smith and Lindsey Voltolini. Brian Voltolini serves as OSU associate athletic director and general manager. He has worked with Urban Meyer since his time at Bowling Green in 2001.

Voltolini said Meyer had personally spoken with Zach Smith about the 2015 allegations.

Following McMurphy's report, Courtney Smith spoke to Stadium and reiterated she discussed the situation with Shelley Meyer:

Stadium @WatchStadium

EXCLUSIVE: Longtime Urban Meyer assistant Zach Smith's ex-wife, Courtney Smith, opens up about reported domestic violence and what she believes Meyer knew. https://t.co/dNWA9x2F4y

Meyer then released a statement on Twitter, saying he misspoke during Big Ten media days:

Urban Meyer @OSUCoachMeyer


He added that he reported the allegations against Smith in 2015 to the necessary officials at Ohio State:

"While at the University of Florida, and now at The Ohio State University, I have always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels. And, I did so regarding the Zach Smith incident in 2015. I take that responsibility very seriously and any suggestion to the contrary is simply false."

Ohio State placed Meyer on paid administrative leave on Aug. 1 and announced an investigation into whether the coach knew about the domestic violence allegations prior to Stein's report.

The university appointed offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day as the interim head coach during the investigation and made it clear the investigation was likely to conclude well before the regular season got underway.

Ohio State kicks off the year Sept. 1 against the Oregon State Beavers and will play Rutgers and TCU during Meyer's suspension.

Meyer is entering his seventh season as the Buckeyes head coach. The team has compiled a 73-8 record under Meyer so far, winning a national championship in 2014.

Ohio State is once again expected to contend for a national title, entering 2018 ranked third in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll.