Urban Meyer Gets Three-Game Suspension

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Corpus Christi Caller-Times


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer will remain as football coach of Ohio State but will be suspended for three games after the school investigated his handling of allegations of domestic abuse involving one of his former assistant coaches.

The announcement comes after the school's Board of Trustees appointed an independent panel to oversee a two-week investigation of Meyer and what he knew about domestic abuse allegations against former assistant Zach Smith. The board reviewed the report and discussed its actions for nearly 11 hours on Wednesday.

Meyer will miss games against Oregon State, Rutgers and TCU. He is suspended without pay.

"I appreciate the opportunity to learn from a mistake," Meyer said at a press conference.

Athletic director Gene Smith also was suspended from Aug. 31 to Sept. 16.

According to the report: "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. 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."

During his administrative leave, Meyer was barred from coming on campus. But he was seen entering the building early in the trustees' session. His wife, Shelley, arrived around 2:30.

Smith was accused of abuse by his ex-wife on several occasions, most recently in 2015. Meyer initially denied knowledge of the alleged 2015 incident during an appearance at Big Ten Conference media days in July. He later he admitted to previously knowing about the matter and said he followed proper reporting protocols and procedures.

In an interview for the web site Stadium, Smith's ex-wife, Courtney Smith, said she had told Meyer's wife, Shelley, and Lindsey Voltolini, the wife of Ohio State's director of football operations, about her ex-husband's abusive behavior.

Among the correspondences between Smith and Shelley Meyer were photos showing bruises stemming from the 2015 incident.

Following the interview of Smith, the school's Board of Trustees appointed an independent panel to oversee the investigation of Meyer.

Ryan Day, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, served as interim head coach during the investigation. Ohio State plays Oregon State in its season opener on Sept. 1.

Across multiple stops, each more successful than the last, Meyer's coaching career has been a contradiction of near-unparalleled success marred by bouts of controversy.

At Florida, where Meyer led the Gators to national championships in 2006 and 2008, his program dominated the Southeastern Conference yet too often found itself in the headlines for player misconduct. Off the field, a program that seemed invincible was anything but.

Thirty-one players were arrested during Meyer's tenure, which spanned from 2005-10. A report by Sporting News detailed an altercation between Florida assistant coach Billy Gonzales and star receiver Percy Harvin, which saw Harvin grab Gonzales by the throat and tackle him to the ground before being separated by two assistants.

Another one of Meyer's stars at Florida, tight end Aaron Hernandez, was involved in two incidents during his time with the Gators, both in 2007. In one, Hernandez punched a restaurant employee in the side of the head, rupturing the individual's eardrum. In the other, Hernandez was viewed as a person of interest in a shooting that occurred after a night at a local nightclub.

In 2013, Hernandez was arrested and charged in the murder of an acquaintance in North Attleborough, Mass. Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2015.

On the field, on the other hand, Meyer led Florida back to prominence after a brief dip following the retirement of former head coach Steve Spurrier.

Led by quarterback Tim Tebow, the Gators won the national championship in both 2006 and 2008, finished No. 3 in the Amway Coaches Poll in 2009 and finished lower than 16th nationally just once, in Meyer's final season in 2010.

Meyer nearly retired in the winter of 2009, after a health scare involving chest pains following the recent conference championship game and a desire to spend more time with his family. He officially stepped down on Dec. 9, 2010 with a 65-15 record at the school, and spent the 2011 season as an analyst for ESPN.

"At the end of the day, I'm very convinced that you're going to be judged on how you are as a husband and as a father and not on how many bowl games we won," Meyer said at the time.

But it wasn't long before he returned to coaching. A native of Ashtabula, Ohio, Meyer was hired by Ohio State in late November of 2011, and immediately moved the Buckeyes into elite company: OSU went 12-0 in his debut season, in 2012, though the Buckeyes were ineligible for the postseason due to sanctions stemming from the Jim Tressel era.

Of Meyer's six teams, just one, in 2013, finished outside the top 10 of the Coaches Poll.

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August 23, 2018


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