There’s been a major shake-up at the top of the preseason college football rankings. Ohio State, just days before the 2018 season is set to begin, will enter the season without Urban Myer. The head coach has been placed on paid administrative leave while the school investigates domestic abuse allegations against assistant coach Zach Smith in 2015.
As of now, Meyer is not being accused of any wrong-doing. Yet the media is reporting that Meyer, and the rest of the coaching staff, may have been aware of Zach Smith’s treatment of his wife, Courtney.
Ohio State’s athletic director Gene Smith has appointed Ryan Day to fill in as head coach during the investigation.
“Gene and I agree that being on leave during this inquiry will facilitate its completion,” Meyer said. “This allows the team to conduct training camp with minimal distraction. I eagerly look forward to the resolution of this matter.”
At issue here are allegations that Smith’s wife, Courtney, texted images of the assistant coach’s abuse to the wives of all of the coaching staff at Ohio State. This reportedly occurred in 2015. Those texts have been seen by college football reporter Brett McMurphy.
“All the wives knew,” Courtney Smith told McMurphy. “They all did. Every single one.”
“According to McMurphy’s interpretation of those exchanges, they suggest that Urban Meyer was aware of the situation back in 2015,” The Daily Mail writes.
“Meyer previously denied knowing about domestic abuse allegations involving Zach and Courtney Smith from 2015, but did acknowledge that he was told about a 2009 incident when he was the head coach at the University of Florida while Zach served as an intern for the Gators.”
Zach Smith was fired back on July 24th when allegations of his abuse were made public.
If Meyer knew about the abuse and did nothing, it will likely cost him his job. Yet the issue could get worse for many on the coaching staff. “Courtney Smith also alleged that Urban Meyer’s long-time special assistant and friend, Hiram de Fries, urged her to drop charges against Zach after the incident in Florida in 2009, when [Zach] was arrested for allegedly abusing her while she was pregnant,” DM adds.
“[De Fries] said, ‘If you don’t drop the charges, Zach will never coach again’,” Courtney Smith told McMurphy. “‘He’s never hit you before. He was drinking. He’ll probably never do it again. You should think about giving him a second chance’.”
There was not a conviction in that case.
On July 20th, Magistrate David J. Laughlin issued a domestic violence civil protection order against Smith. “The court finds that [Courtney Smith] is in immediate and present danger of domestic violence and for good cause the following temporary orders are necessary to protect the persons named [Courtney Smith and her children Cameron, 8, and Quinn, 6] in this order from domestic violence,” Laughlin ruled.
Coach Meyer continues to maintain that he knew nothing of these events. Had he known, he says, he would have fired Smith at the time.
It is still unclear if Shelley Meyer spoke to her husband about the abuse in 2015. “Shelley said she was going to have to tell Urban,” Courtney Smith said. “I said: ‘That’s fine, you should tell Urban.’ I know Shelley did everything she could.”
“She would reach out to me, ask me how I’m doing, tell me she was worried, if I needed anything, she was there.”
“When somebody is crying out for help, I believe the coach, along with the coach’s wife, have a duty,” Courtney Smith told reporters. “They have a duty to do something to help, instead of worrying about winning games, or instead of worrying about who his mentor is and who his family is and trying to protect that, somebody’s safety and the safety of their children and the environment they’re in needs to be more important.”