Ohio State University released its findings last week concerning head football coach Urban Meyer and his program in Columbus, Ohio. The findings were alarming to say the least. The result of a three game suspension, if you can call it that, since he is allowed to coach the team during practices after Week One, which was well received in Columbus. Nationally, Ohio State took a major public relations hit.
I read the 23-page report and will highlight a few of the findings that may make the parents of future recruits think twice before having their sons sign on with the Buckeyes.
A quick review. The investigation centered around any possible wrongdoing by Meyer and the university as a whole in connection with assistant coach Zach Smith’s alleged commission of domestic violence against his former wife, dating back to 2009.
The 2009 incident in question happened after a party at Meyer’s home. Meyer was the head coach at the University of Florida at the time. After the party, Smith was arrested for aggravated battery on a pregnant female, his then-wife Courtney Smith. The investigation revealed that Smith, who had been drinking, brought a female coworker to sleep on the couch at his home. Courtney Smith strenuously objected and drove the co-worker home. Afterwards, a verbal altercation between Zach and Courtney Smith occurred upon Mrs. Smith’s return home and Zach Smith allegedly picked up his wife and threw her against the wall.
Coach Urban Meyer and his wife Shelley Meyer were aware of the 2009 arrest, as was Hiram deFries, a Special Assistant to Coach Meyer at both Florida and OSU. Coach Meyer did not inform others at OSU about Zach Smith’s 2009 arrest.
Here are some other findings that Meyer knew of or should have known of regarding Zach Smith since the initial 2009 incident.
A 2013 arrest for operating a vehicle while impaired. In May 2014, in connection with an out-of-town recruiting trip to Florida, Zach Smith ran up a significant bill at a local strip club, along with another OSU football coach and one or more high school coaches. From October 2015 through 2016, there was a long-term investigation by the Powell Police Department and the Delaware County prosecutor of Zach Smith for possible domestic violence and cyber offenses against Courtney Smith. During and after his divorce proceedings in 2015 and early 2016, Zach Smith’s job performance suffered, and he was regularly late to practice and workouts He also failed to appear at scheduled recruiting visits at various high schools, despite reporting internally that he had. During this time period, according to the investigation, Zach Smith was engaged in a sexual relationship with a secretary on the football staff, who did not report to him, and took sexually explicit photographs of himself in the OSU football facilities, and at other locations, including at the White House on a team visit in April 2015 after winning the 2014 National Championship. He also had sex-related toys delivered to him at the OSU athletics facilities. On December 19, 2017, Zach Smith was given a trespass warning by the Powell Police because he allegedly entered onto the premises of his former wife, Courtney Smith, while intoxicated on December 17, 2017. On May 12, 2018, Zach Smith was charged with criminal trespass after he went to the home of Courtney Smith. On July 20, 2018, a domestic violence civil protection order was issued against Zach Smith, based on an ex parte finding that Zach Smith posed an immediate danger of domestic violence to Courtney Smith.
Still, Meyer and Ohio State stood by Zach Smith. Not until the news of the order hit social media did Meyer fire Zach Smith. In other words, the public now had damning information. None of the before-mentioned incidents I just listed warranted a dismissal. Just the fact that it was now public knowledge.
Even after letting Zach Smith go, Meyer attempted to keep the cover up going, as he stated at Big Ten Media Day that he did not have any knowledge of domestic violence concerning Zach Smith. The same Urban Meyer who coached at Florida between the years of 2005 and 2010 when 31 of his players were arrested for various crimes.
The same Urban Meyer who decided to delete all text messages off his phone that were over a year old during the investigation.
The same Urban Meyer who is getting a pass from his employers because he wins football games.
Images: Urban Meyer; Zach Smith