Ohio State suspends football coach Urban Meyer for first three games of 2018 season

Urban Meyer head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team, Photo Date: 11/30/2013 / Cropped Photo: Adam Glanzman / CC BY 2.0 / (MGN)
By  | 

By: Tom Fornelli, Ben Kercheval | CBS Sports
August 22, 2018

Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer has been suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season, Ohio State's Board of Trustees, along with university president Michael Drake, announced late Wednesday. Meyer will miss games against Oregon State, Rutgers and at No. 16 TCU.

OSU also announced that athletic director Gene Smith has been suspended just over two weeks from Aug. 31 to Sept. 16.

The summary of Ohio State's investigation resulting in Meyer's suspension stated that Meyer "failed to act appropriately regarding alleged abuse by Zach Smith of his former wife and related allegations that he misrepresented his knowledge of the alleged events at the Big Ten Media Days."

The investigation also found that Meyer and Smith "failed to adhere to the precise requirements of their contracts when they concluded that they needed to await a law enforcement determination to file charges before they reported the otherwise disputed claims of spousal abuse against Zach Smith, they did so based upon a good faith belief that they did not have sufficient information to trigger a reporting obligation or initiate a disciplinary action in the absence of law enforcement action.

"Other than their misunderstanding of the requirements triggering reporting obligations, neither Coach Meyer nor Athletic Director Smith violated any policy, rules, law or contractual obligation in connection with the alleged domestic abuse claims against Zach Smith."

The decision came down following a two-week investigation into Meyer's handling of domestic violence claims against former Smith, the team's former wide receivers coach. That investigation was completed on Sunday, Aug. 19.

Ohio State placed Meyer on administrative leave on Aug. 1 in response to reports from Brett McMurphy detailing the coach's knowledge of a 2015 incident involving Smith. One week earlier, Meyer told reporters at Big Ten Media Days that he had absolutely no knowledge of the incident. Smith was fired on July 23 after McMurphy reported a string of domestic violence incidents -- the aforementioned 2015 incident and another in 2009 while at Florida -- involving the assistant and his then-wife Courtney.

While on leave, Meyer released a statement claiming he "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."

Meyer did not admit fault in the situation, but did claim that he "failed on many ... fronts" at the Big Ten Media Days to be "clear, compassionate, and most of all, completely accurate" in addressing a personnel issue. He continued: "My intention was not to say anything inaccurate or misleading. However, I was not adequately prepared to discuss these sensitive personnel issues with the media, and I apologize for the way I handled those questions."

Co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day has been serving as the Buckeyes' interim coach for the last three weeks and is expected to maintain that role through Week 3 of the 2018 season.