Ohio State places coach Urban Meyer on 'administrative leave' pending investigation

Cropped Photo: Adam Glanzman / CC BY 2.0 (MGN)
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By: Barrett Sallee | CBS Sports
August 1, 2018

Ohio State has placed coach Urban Meyer on administrative leave, the school announced late Wednesday, as a response to a report that made it clear Meyer knew about domestic violence incidents involving former wide receivers coach Zach Smith but did not act or remove him from his football programs prior to this offseason.

"The university is conducting an investigation into these allegations," Ohio State said in a statement provided to 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."

Meyer also released a statement to CBS Sports through the university. "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."

Brett McMurphy reported Wednesday -- through a string of interviews and text messages he uncovered -- that Meyer did know about the 2015 incident in which Smith was arrested for felonious assault and domestic violence of his then-wife.

The report contains screenshots of text messages and graphic pictures that purportedly detail a pattern of abuse ranging from physical violence to text message threats made by Smith to his ex-wife Courtney. In text message conversations with Shelley Meyer, Urban's wife and confidant, Courtney discusses Smith's behavior and receives sympathy and shock from Shelley, who referred to Smith as scary. Later Wednesday, Courtney said in an interview with Stadium that Shelley proposed talking to Meyer about the incidents, to which Courtney said she should do.

The evidence presented in McMurphy's report directly contradicts what Meyer said in July at Big Ten Media Days.

"[Regarding] 2015, I got a text late last night something happened in 2015," Meyer said on July 24. "And there was nothing. Once again, there's nothing – once again, I don't know who creates a story like that."

McMurphy's report suggests that Meyer wasn't the only coach on staff who knew of Smith's behavior.

"All the [coaches] wives knew," Courtney told McMurphy. "They all did. Every single one."

Smith was fired July 23 after McMurphy first reported the 2015 incident and another in 2009 when Smith was on Meyer's staff at Florida. Smith was investigated for battery of Courtney, who was pregnant at the time, in 2009. Cleveland.com reported Wednesday that there were nine separate incidents involving Zach and Courtney Smith between Jan. 1, 2012, and July 26, 2018. Included in that report was a Dec. 2017 incident in which neighbors reported Smith peering in the windows of his ex-wife's home and car at 1:30 a.m. and even "banging" on the door of the home.