Urban Meyer, coach of college football powerhouse Ohio State, said Friday he followed procedure in reporting domestic violence allegations against one of his now-former assistants but failed to properly answer media questions about the incident.
Meyer, who is on administrative leave, said, "I have always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels."
At issue is whether Meyer knew about domestic violence allegations against Zach Smith made by his ex-wife, Courtney Smith. Zach Smith was the team's wide receivers' coach.
Zach Smith was fired on July 23 after he was served a civil protection order on behalf of Courtney Smith. The order, which was signed July 20, is effective until 2023 and prohibits Zach Smith from going within 500 feet of his ex-wife.
In a July 23 Facebook post, college football reporter Brett McMurphy detailed a series of domestic violence allegations against Smith dating back to 2009 and 2015.
The day after Smith was fired, Meyer was asked about the allegations during the Big Ten Conference Football Media Day.
"My intention was not to say anything inaccurate or misleading," Meyer said Friday in the lengthy statement to Ohio State fans. "However, I was not adequately prepared to discuss these sensitive personnel issues with the media, and I apologize for the way I handled those questions."
Meyer said he was ready to answer questions from school investigators looking into the matter.
"Please know truth is the ultimate power and I am confident I took appropriate action," he said.
Meyer has one of the best college football winning percentages of all time, with 188 wins and only 34 losses in 17 years. He coached the Bowling Green Falcons and Utah Utes before winning two national championships with the Florida Gators. He won a third national championship, with Ohio State, in 2015.
Meyer took the helm at Ohio State, one of the country's winningest programs, from Luke Fickell, a longtime Ohio State assistant who ascended to the top job for a year after the once-heralded championship coach Jim Tressel resigned. An NCAA investigation found Tressel knew several players, including his star quarterback, had swapped memorabilia for tattoos and other benefits, but failed to report it. The Buckeyes vacated 12 wins from their 2010 season after the episode.
Ohio State athletics came under fire again twice last month. A lawsuit naming the Ohio State University Diving Club accuses former coach William Bohonyi of sexually preying on two divers, one of them a minor. In a separate matter, dozens of former male athletes from 14 Ohio State teams accused former school doctor Richard Strauss of sexual misconduct. Strauss killed himself in 2005.
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