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Urban Meyer placed on administrative leave, Ryan Day named acting head coach

By Bill Landis • Updated Aug 1, 2018 at 6:38 PM

COLUMBUS — Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer has been placed on paid administrative leave while the university investigates allegations that Meyer knew about a 2015 domestic abuse allegation against former receivers coach Zach Smith, and allowed Smith to remain on his staff for three years before firing him on July 23.

"The university is conducting an investigation into these allegations ... We are focused on supporting our players and on getting to the truth as expeditiously as possible," a statement from the university read.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day will serve as acting head football coach.

Meyer also issued a statement:

"(Athletic director) Gene (Smith) and I agree that being on leave during this inquiry will facilitate its completion. This allows the team to conduct training camp with minimal distraction. I eagerly look forward to the resolution of this matter."

Ohio State is set to open 2018 fall camp on Friday.

Zach Smith was fired last week after a report from Brett McMurphy revealed domestic abuse allegations against Smith from his now ex-wife, Courtney Smith, in Florida in 2009 and in Ohio in 2015. Zach Smith was a graduate assistant on Meyer's Florida staff in 2009.

Meyer said he was aware of the 2009 incident when it happened, that charges were never filed and that he and his wife Shelley counseled the Smiths. He denied any knowledge of the 2015 incident, and said it had nothing to do with Smith's dismissal.

Zach Smith has never been charged with a domestic violence crime.

A new report from McMurphy on Wednesday uncovered text exchanges between Courtney Smith and Shelley Meyer detailing the alleged abuse, and photos of bruises that Smith claimed to have shared with Shelley. In a video interview with Stadium, Courtney Smith said she believed Urban Meyer knew of the alleged abuse when it happened three years ago.

"I do believe he knew, and instead he chose to help the abuser, enable the abuser, and believe every story Zach was telling everybody," Courtney Smith told Stadium.

She also said that the university was aware of a domestic violence investigation into her ex-husband that ended without any charges.

"Nobody from the university came and asked me my side of the story," Smith said. "They knew there was an investigation going on and not once did anyone call me and ask me what happened. That's a problem, and it needs to change."

McMurphy's reporting detailed that at the very least, Meyer's wife and the wives of some his staff members were aware of the alleged abuse. A Nov. 5, 2015 text exchange between Courtney Smith and the wife of Brian Voltolini, Ohio State's director of football operations, implied that Meyer had a discussion with Zach Smith about the alleged 2015 incident, and that Smith "denied everything."

In her interview with Stadium, Courtney Smith said she did not know whether Shelley Meyer reported the alleged abuse to Urban Meyer.

Zach Smith was one of the original nine assistants hired by Meyer when he came to Ohio State in 2012. Smith, 34, is the grandson of former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce.

Meyer was adamant that he had no knowledge of the alleged 2015 incident, even suggesting at one point during Big Ten media days last week that the whole thing was possibly made up. He later said he had his staff look into it, and they couldn't find anything. He said he was never made aware of a 2015 incident involving Zach Smith.

Meyer told The Athletic that he was already looking into Smith's job status before those reports surfaced. Smith is facing a criminal trespass charge from an incident involving a child custody exchange with his ex-wife back in May. Courtney Smith filed an order of protection against her ex-husband in Delaware, Ohio on July 20.

Police reports obtained by cleveland.com detail a tumultuous three-year period of domestic incidents involving the Smiths from 2015 to 2018.


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Report: Urban Meyer was aware of 2015 alleged domestic assault by one of his assistant coaches

Text messages and accounts from the victim cast doubt on Urban Meyer’s claim that he did not know about an alleged domestic assault by one of his assistant coaches, according to a bombshell report released Wednesday.

The alleged victim, Courtney Smith, shared text messages that show Meyer’s wife, Shelly, attempting to console and advise her following incidents in 2015. A separate alleged text exchange with the wife of another Ohio State football employee implies Meyer knew about the assault directly.

Courtney has accused her ex-husband, former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith, of repeatedly abusing and attacking her.

Zach was arrested in May of criminal trespass, and Meyer said he knew only of a 2009 alleged attack involving his assistant, not the 2015 incident.

According to college football reporter Brett McMurphy, Courtney had the following alleged 2015 text exchange with Meyer’s wife, Shelley:

Shelley: “I am with you! A lot of women stay hoping it will get better. I don’t blame you! But just want u to be safe. Do you have a restraining order? He scares me”

Courtney: “Restraining orders don’t do anything in Ohio-I tried to get protection order which is what started this whole investigation. And that should go through soon finally. It’s hard bc you have to prove immediate danger. Legal system is tough. Basically you have to prove he will kill u to get protective order”

Shelley: “Geesh! Even w the pics? Didn’t law enforcement come to your place ever??”

Courtney Smith told another media outlet, Stadium, that she never confirmed the famed coach knew about the assault. However, another alleged text exchange between Courtney and Lindsey Voltoline – the wife of an Ohio State’s football operations directory – implies that Meyer confronted Zach about the allegations.

According to McMurphy, these were the texts:

Courtney: “(Zach’s) trying to make me look crazy bc that’s what Shelley is saying (he’s doing)”

Lindsey: “He (Urban) just said he (Zach) denied everything”

Courtney: “I hope urban is smarter than that”

Lindsey: “He (Urban) doesn’t know what to think”

Courtney: “I don’t really care. Ya know”

Lindsey: “Yeah, don’t worry about urb”

Zach Smith was fired in July after details of his alleged domestic abuses surfaced. His arrest stemmed from violating a restraining order filed by his ex-wife. The couple divorced in 2015. Before that, Courtney alleged she suffered bruises on her neck and arms as a result of attacks. She also alleged Zach hit her with the metal top of a smokeless tobacco can.

Last week at Big 10 Media Day, Meyer – who has won three national titles as coach of Ohio State and Florida – claimed he only knew about an incident in 2009, when Zach was arrested for aggravated battery of a pregnant victim.

Meyer said he addressed it at the time by advising counseling.

“In 2009, Zach was an intern, uh, a very young couple. As I do many times — as I imagine most coaches or people in leadership positions — you receive a phone call, the first thing you do is tell your boss. Let the experts do their jobs. We’re certainly not going to investigate,” Meyer said. “It came back to me what was reported wasn’t actually what happened, so Shelley and I both got involved actually — because of our relationship with that family — and advised for counseling and wanted to help as we moved forward.”

According to McMurphy’s report, Ohio State is in danger of violating Title IX and its sexual misconduct policy, depending on who knew about the alleged assaults and to what extent.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (TNS) contributed to this report.


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