Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer Placed On ‘Administrative Leave’ Amid Domestic Violence Probe Into Ex-Assistant
The Ohio State Buckeyes put head football coach Urban Meyer on paid administrative leave Wednesday evening following an investigation into a 2015 domestic violence incident involving his former assistant coach Zach Smith.
“The university is conducting an investigation into these allegations,” the Buckeyes said in a statement shared by CBS Sports. “During the inquiry, Urban Meyer will be on paid administrative leave. Ryan Day will serve as acting head football coach during the investigation. We are focused on supporting our players and on getting to the truth as expeditiously as possible.”
Day is Ohio State’s offensive coordinator who has been named interim head coach.
On Wednesday, a report surfaced that there was evidence Meyer, 54, was aware of the 2015 incident involving Smith, Ohio State’s wide receivers coach who was ultimately fired on July 23. Brett McMurphy, who works for CBS Sports and ESPN, discovered a series of text messages that Smith’s wife Courtney exchanged with Meyer’s wife Shelley.
“I am with you! A lot of women stay hoping it will get better,” Shelley wrote in one of the messages. “I don’t blame you! But just want u to be safe. Do you have a restraining order? He scares me.”
Courtney Smith also reportedly spoke to the wives of other Buckeyes staffers and assistant coaches.
“All the [coaches] wives knew,” Courtney Smith told McMurphy. “They all did. Every single one.”
There was also a modification in an October 2015 police report after the domestic abuse incident. An initial report said Zach Smith was arrested, but a later one stated he wasn’t.
Zach Smith denied allegations of the incident, despite having previously been accused of domestic violence while working as an assistant coach for Meyer with the Florida Gators in 2009. Meyer admitted he knew about this instance, during which Smith’s wife was reportedly pregnant and the assistant coach allegedly threw her against a wall.
Since joining Ohio State in 2012, Meyer has lead the Buckeyes to five division titles, a Big 10 Championship, the 2014 NCAA title and the team’s all-time biggest win streak (24 games). He is is one of the highest-paid head coaches in college football.
Ohio State went 12-2 last season and finished first in the Big Ten East. In April, Meyer signed an extension with the Buckeyes through the 2022 season. There is a clause in his contract that stipulates he must report any incidents of physical or sexual abuse to the university’s Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics. Should he fail to comply, Ohio State could fire Meyer with cause.
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