The Ohio State University wants to determine what Urban Meyer knew and when he knew it.
The school announced Wednesday it has put the head coach of its football team on paid administrative leave while it investigates domestic violence allegations against one of his former assistants and how the football program handled them.
Ohio State’s action follows college football reporter Brett McMurphy’s explosive report, which suggests Meyer was aware former wide receivers coach Zach Smith abused his ex-wife, Courtney Smith, multiple times in 2015 but nevertheless retained him on his staff for years.
“The university is conducting an investigation into these allegations,” the school’s statement reads. “During the inquiry, Urban Meyer will be on paid administrative leave. (Offensive coordinator) 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 said in a statement that going on leave during the investigation is the right thing to do.
“(Ohio State athletic director) Gene (Smith) 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.”
Meyer and his wife Shelley, who also reportedly was aware of the allegations that Zach Smith was violent toward Courtney Smith, might have violated the Title IX policy on reporting domestic-violence allegations against university employees, according to Cleveland.com’s Doug Lesmerises.
Zach Smith worked under Meyer at the University of Florida from 2005 to 2009 and at Ohio State from 2012 until last month. Ohio State fired Zach Smith on July 24 after police issued a protective order against him at Courtney Smith’s behest.
Meyer told reporters last month during the Big Ten media days he wasn’t aware of two specific allegations against Zach Smith, but McMurphy’s full report suggests otherwise.
Meyer is heading into his seventh season as Ohio State’s head coach. He has led the Buckeyes to one national title and two Big Ten championships.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images