Urban Meyer Fulfills Suspension, Says 'Intent Was to Try to Help All Involved'

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2018

Ohio State University football coach Urban Meyer is seen during a press conference in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, to announce the results of an investigation of NCAA college football coach Urban Meyer for the way he handled domestic-abuse allegations against a former assistant. Ohio State suspended Meyer on Wednesday for three games for mishandling domestic violence accusations, punishing one of the sport's most prominent leaders for keeping an assistant on staff for several years after the coach's wife accused him of abuse. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
Paul Vernon/Associated Press

With his suspension officially over, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is once again addressing the controversy that kept him away from the program for three games. 

In an interview with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi, Meyer says he was never trying to dismiss or downplay the domestic violence allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith. 

"My intent was to try to help all involved," Meyer said. "The only way that I knew how at the time, and I had two choices: fire a man and really put a family in upheaval financially, etc., or try to stabilize someone so you can go up and be a good father."

He added that he "probably should've fired" Smith as soon as the allegations came to light rather than making the "decision to do the best I can to help stabilize that situation."

Meyer also emphasized his feelings about domestic violence and why his suspension wasn't the result of ignoring allegations against one of his assistant coaches:

"I'm very clear on my view of life, on my view of people, and domestic violence is at the forefront. I can't stand when I see it. I can't stand when I hear it. For anyone at this university to believe that Urban Meyer would turn his back on domestic violence, I need to leave.

"It's very clear, my stance on domestic violence. I was not suspended for that. I was suspended because I mismanaged a very troubled employee and I went too far to help him."

Meyer announced Smith's firing in July after his ex-wife, Courtney Smith, filed a domestic violence civil protection order against him after he was charged with criminal trespassing. 

Smith worked on Meyer's staff at Florida from 2005-09 and joined him at Ohio State in 2012. Bill Landis of Cleveland.com reported last month that domestic violence allegations against Smith made by his ex-wife dated back to 2009. 

During Ohio State's investigation into Meyer's handling of Smith, the university revealed text messages between Courtney and Shelley Meyer:

Urban told Rinaldi he had knowledge of those texts until recently. 

"The first time I heard of those texts were just recently in the last month," Meyer said. "Shelley did not share text messages with me."

Ohio State said neither Meyer nor athletic director Gene Smith "condoned or covered up the alleged domestic abuse" by Smith, but their failure to "take sufficient management action" led to both men being suspended by the university. 

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