Two days after he was placed on paid administrative leave and less than two weeks after Zach Smith was fired, Ohio State Buckeyes head football coach Urban Meyer has released a statement on Twitter Friday afternoon. In it, he admitted that he was aware of allegations that were made by Courtney Smith against his former wide receivers coach and reported said allegations to the proper channels.
— Urban Meyer (@OSUCoachMeyer) August 3, 2018
Dear Buckeye Nation:
My heart is heavy today as I witness the toll that events of the past week have taken on the Buckeye Family and the university community that I love so dearly.
When I stand before the 105 young men in our football program and talk about core values and doing the right thing and respecting women, it’s not lip-service. I genuinely believe that we have an obligation to help develop the young men in our charge into positive change agents and that responsibility rests with me.
Over the past several days, I have been portrayed as being indifferent to domestic violence and as someone who did not take appropriate action, when warranted. While over three decades of coaching I have learned to ignore how others define me, I do feel it necessary to share the truth with the Buckeye family.
Here is the truth: While at the University of Florida, and now at The Ohio State University, I have 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.
The power of what I say and how I say it, especially regarding sensitive and serious domestic issues, has never been more evident than now. My words, whether in a reply to a reporter’s question or in addressing a personnel issue, must be clear, compassionate, and most of all, completely accurate. Unfortunately, at Big Ten Media Days on July 24th, I failed on many of these fronts. 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.
I understand there are more questions to be answered and I look forward to doing just that with the independent investigators retained by the University and I will cooperate fully with them. At the appropriate time, I will also address the questions and speculation in a public forum. But for now, out of respect for the ongoing inquiry, I will refrain at this time.
Please know that the truth is the ultimate power and I am confident that I took appropriate action. As I stated above, I deeply regret if I have failed in my words. As the son of an amazing woman and the husband to another and, as the father of two incredible young women, those who know me best know the admiration and respect I have for all women. Our core values are just that-values that do not ever waver.
I ask that you continue to support the incredible coaches and student-athletes in our program, and I look forward to rejoining them soon.
There is a lot to unpack here. While stating that he took appropriate action with the allegations involving Smith and his ex-wife in 2015, Meyer also apologized for lying to the media during last week’s Big Ten Media Days. He was asked nine different times about the allegations involving his now-former wide receivers coach, and this was Meyer’s response:
“I know nothing; never had a conversation about that; who would create a story like that & If I (knew) I would have made a change.”
A few things here: How was he not adequately prepared to answer questions about the 2015 allegations involving Smith at last week’s Big Ten Media Days when it was obvious that that would be the main discussion point? Why did he lie about not knowing about the incident? Who was he trying to protect while doing so?
If both Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith knew about the allegations made toward Smith back in 2015, why wasn’t he fired then? Why wait three years? If true, is Gene Smith now on the hot seat?1
While the statement from Meyer allows us to see his side of the story, there are still a bunch of questions and not so many answers about this entire situation. It is also possible that Meyer had contractual reasons for the content of his message.
Urban Meyer's statement seems written with contract law in mind. It denies any grounds that Ohio State could use to fire him with cause. At the same time, it acknowledges his answers to journalists' questions were inadequate–a personal failing that doesn't violate his contract. https://t.co/reaiRXw9yE
— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) August 3, 2018
The university released a statement Thursday night stating that the Ohio State University Board of Trustees formed a special, independent board that will direct the work of the investigation. Hopefully, this investigation allows us to know who is telling the truth here so the proper people can be disciplined appropriately.
- He should be. [↩]