Ohio State University suspended head football coach Urban Meyer for three games Wednesday for his handling of alleged instances of domestic abuse from a longtime assistant coach. The university also suspended its athletic director Gene Smith in response to a two-week long investigation into the tenure and ultimate dismissal of former assistant coach Zach Smith last month. Meyer was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 1 when the news broke that Zach Smith had faced multiple allegations of domestic abuse from his ex-wife, raising questions about whether or not Meyer was aware of the abuse that spanned years.
“Although neither Urban Meyer nor Gene Smith condoned or covered up the alleged domestic abuse by Zach Smith, they failed to take sufficient management action relating to Zach Smith’s misconduct and retained an Assistant Coach who was not performing as an appropriate role model for OSU student-athletes,” the school said in a statement Wednesday on the investigation’s findings. “Permitting such misconduct to continue is not consistent with the values of the University and reflects poorly on Coach Meyer, Athletic Director Smith, and the University. Their handling of this matter did not exhibit the kind of leadership and high standards that we expect of our Athletic Director, Head Coach, Assistant Coaches and all on the football staff.”
“Although Coach Meyer made significant misstatements about his knowledge of the 2015 events relating to Zach Smith and his former wife at the Big Ten Media Days, they were not part of a deliberate cover-up effort to keep Zach Smith on the coaching staff in the face of evidence of domestic violence by him that Athletic Director Smith and Coach Meyer credited,” the Ohio State statement continued.
Both Meyer and Smith will be suspended without pay and Meyer will sit out the Buckeyes’ first three games against Oregon State, Rutgers, and Texas Christian.