Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer is in hot water. A report by former ESPN college football reporter Brett McMurphy says that Urban Meyer had specific knowledge of domestic abuse allegations against a member of his coaching staff, Zach Smith, in 2015. McMurphy says Courtney Smith, ex-wife of fired Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith, provided text messages between her and the wives of Ohio State coaches – including Urban Meyer’s wife, Shelley – showing Meyer’s knowledge of the situation.”
The problems for Meyer are two-fold. First, there is text message evidence that Meyer knew about multiple allegations of domestic abuse against a member of his staff and did not investigate which may trigger a Title IX violation. Title IX states A college or university that receives federal funding may be held legally responsible when it knows about and ignores sexual harassment or assault in its programs or activities. Second, he lied when asked about it during Big Ten media day last week. Meyer said, “I was never told about anything…Never anything came to light, never had a conversation about it. So I know nothing about it. I asked people back at the office to call and see what happened, and they came back and said they know nothing.”
The text messages state otherwise. The full post by McMurphy is available via his Facebook page.
The immediate question is what does Ohio State do about this? The university does not want to fire Urban Meyer but may be left with no other choice. Any other coach in America including Nick Saban would be fired for lying about covering up domestic violence to the media, fans, and other coaches. And, Ohio State forced national championship coach Jim Tressel to resign amid NCAA violations from a tattoo-parlor scandal. So, how can they retain Meyer when this situation is far more serious?
Meyer admitted he knew about the 2009 allegations against Smith, but said “What was reported wasn’t actually what happened…It’s a very personal matter.” However, he claimed to not know about the Oct. 25, 2015 allegations where Courtney Smith said, “He took me and shoved me up against the wall, with his hands around my neck,” Courtney said. “Something he did very often. My (then 3-year old) daughter was clinging to my leg. It obviously registered with him what he was doing, so he took my (then 5-year old) son and left. So I called the police.”
Meyer was not required to fire Zach Smith immediately upon allegations of domestic violence by Zach Smith, but he was required to investigate the situation. And if those allegations were founded, he needed to do something. Instead of doing the right thing, he lied. Now he has placed Ohio State is in an untenable position.
Should Ohio State fire Urban Meyer?