Meyer's handling of allegations against ex-assistant questioned

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer received a salary increase in April.Photo: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports (file photo)

Suddenly there is controversy surrounding Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

Meyer and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith were meeting Wednesday afternoon, according to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports. That meeting presumably had something to do with a report early Wednesday in which college football insider Brett McMurphy produced a report that suggested Meyer knew about domestic abuse allegations against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith in 2015. Last month Meyer denied he knew about the incident.

Smith was dismissed from the Buckeyes coaching staff on July 23, a few days after an Ohio judge declared he was an imminent danger to his ex-wife. Smith had been arrested for criminal trespassing in May. McMurphy reported at the time that this was the third allegation of domestic abuse against Smith, following allegations in 2009 and 2015.

Meyer later admitted to having knowledge of the 2009 allegation, when he was head coach at Florida and Smith was an intern with the Gators. But Meyer specifically denied knowing about the 2015 incident. If it is shown that Meyer knew about the 2015 incident without acting upon it and then lying about his knowledge of the event, it could have consequences for the successful coach.

Courtney Smith, the fired assistant's ex-wife and the alleged victim, provided McMurphy with text messages between her and the wives of Ohio State coaches, including Urban Meyer's wife, Shelley, indicating all the coaches' wives had knowledge of the situation.

"Shelly said she was going to have to tell Urban," Courtney said, according to McMurphy. "I said: 'That's fine, you should tell Urban.' I know Shelley did everything she could."

However, Smith's ex-wife said Shelley Meyer never explicitly told her that she had informed Urban Meyer of the abuse.

Courtney Smith also said that Hiram de Fries, who has been a special assistant to Meyer for years, told her in 2009 not to pursue charges against Zach Smith after an incident in Florida.

University officials have declined comment on the day's developments as of Wednesday afternoon.

Bradley Koffel, an attorney for Zach Smith, told ESPN, "Zach Smith wants to be as transparent and honest as possible but it is not going to be done today through the media. It will only be after he and his ex-wife are sworn in to testify. Once he gets his chance to tell his side of events, don't be surprised when it is corroborated by every police who ever responded to Ms. Smith's calls."

Meyer has a 73-8 record overall and a 47-3 mark in Big Ten play in his six seasons at Ohio State, and the Buckeyes have won two conference titles and one national championship under him.

Ohio State announced in April that a Board of Trustees committee had approved a two-year contract extension for Meyer that would increase his 2018 salary to $7.6 million, making him the second-highest paid coach in college football. His contract runs through the 2022 season.

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Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith placed Meyer on paid administrative leave on Wednesday while the university investigates claims that Meyer's wife knew about allegations of abuse against the assistant coach years before he was fired last week.



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