COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer is pushing back on the reasons for his three-game suspension with claims that don’t fully square with details laid out in the investigation that led to his punishment.
Meyer tweeted a statement Friday that he says intends to clarify what he calls incorrect media reports about his suspension.
Meyer was suspended three games for mismanaging former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who has been accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife, Courtney Smith. Investigators say Meyer didn’t properly handle the abuse claims and other bad behavior from the assistant coach.
Meyer says it’s not accurate that he was suspended because he “knew about or condoned Zach Smith’s alleged domestic abuse.”
Investigators say Meyer knew about several allegations against the coach before the coach was fired. The report also said Meyer didn’t think there was enough to report Smith’s issues to compliance officers, which investigators called a misunderstanding of the reporting requirements.
Meyer also says: “I did not lie at Big Ten Media Days” when he told reporters he didn’t know about accusations against Smith.
Investigators said they do not believe Meyer “deliberately” lied, but said they can’t rule it out and that he clearly intended to not disclose details about Smith’s issues to media. The report says Meyer took that intention too far even after conversations with the athletic director and others about how to respond to questions.
The report says: “Although it is a close question and we cannot rule out that Coach Meyer was intentionally misleading in his answers, we do not ultimately find that he was. He clearly misspoke and made misstatements, but the reasons that happened are complex.”
Meyer says he stands by an earlier apology to Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney Smith, and her children.
University spokesman Chris Davey said the decision to suspend Meyer was based on the information in the independent investigation. He also pointed to school President Michael Drake’s statement from the day Meyer was disciplined, which said:
“I want to state clearly that we believe Urban Meyer did not and does not condone domestic abuse. However, he did fail to take sufficient management action regarding Zach Smith – and he was not as complete and accurate at media days and did not uphold the high standards and values of the university on that day.”
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