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Ohio State suspends football coach Urban Meyer, athletic director Gene Smith


Ohio State announced football coach Urban Meyer will remain suspended until Sept. 2 and will not be allowed to coach the Buckeyes in their first three games.

That comes after an independent investigation found he “did not exhibit the kind of leadership and high standards” the university expects in regards to the handling of former assistant coach Zach Smith. 

»RELATED: Social media reacts to OSU’s decision

OSU director of athletics Gene Smith also was handed a suspension that will last from Aug. 31-Sept. 16. 

“I fully support the findings of the report and the subsequent actions the university has taken,” Gene Smith said in a press conference late Wednesday night. “I have ultimate authority and responsibly and oversight and accountably in our athletic department, particularly the football program, and I understand I could have done a better job in this particular instance.”

 

Meyer was also contrite. 

“I know the impact of the last three weeks have had on this institution, the institution that I love and how challenging this has been for our community and our president, a man I have great respect for, and for that I am deeply sorry,” Meyer said. “I’m fully aware that I’m ultimately responsible for the situation that has harmed the university as a whole and our department of athletics and our football program.” 

The news came after an all-day meeting of the school’s board of trustees. 

“Based on the independent investigation, I want to say clearly we believe Urban Meyer did not and does not condone domestic abuse,” university president Dr. Michael Drake said. “However, he did fail to take sufficient management action regarding Zach Smith and he was not as complete and accurate at media day and didn’t uphold the high standards and values of the university on that day.” 

Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 1 after a report he knew of allegations Zach Smith abused his wife, Courtney. 

Zach Smith was fired on July 23 after being charged with criminal trespassing. He was also served with a civil protection order.  

Meyer denied knowledge of a the 2015 incident a day later, but released a statement August 3 apologizing for how he handled questions at that time. 

Meyer also stated he followed all protocols regarding the allegations in 2015.  

>>FULL STORY: Meyer breaks silence

Later that evening, Zach Smith told ESPN he never beat his wife but admitted to contributed to their marriage being “toxic.” He also said he had discussed the 2015 police investigation with both Meyer and Gene Smith.  

Ohio State named an “independent board” to look into what Meyer knew and how he handled it. 

Ryan Day is serving as interim head coach while Meyer is on paid administrative leave. 

Media access was limited during training camp, but Day provided an extensive update late last week

Ohio State opens the season at home against Oregon State on Sept. 1.  Meyer will miss that game, as well as the home contest against Rutgers a week later and a neutral-site game against TCU on Sept. 15. 

***

PREVIOUS UPDATES

The Ohio State board of trustees meeting to discuss the fate of football coach Urban Meyer was still going through the middle of the afternoon. 

The coach arrived at the Longaberger Alumni House in the morning, and he was joined by his wife, Shelly, at around 2:30 p.m. 

Little information has been provided, though the room where the board met initially has been taken down and appears to be set up for a press conference.

Clark Kellogg, a member of the board and a former Ohio State basketball star, appeared outside the meeting room at around 2 p.m. and reported, “Progress being made,” when asked for an update. 

Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith arrived just after 5 p.m., but did not comment before entering the meeting. 

 

***

PREVIOUS UPDATE: 

As expected, the Ohio State board of trustees convened a special meeting at 9 a.m. to discuss the findings of an investigation into how football coach Urban Meyer and others handled allegations of domestic abuse by an assistant coach. 

Chairman Michael J. Gasser spoke for about two minutes, thanking the investigators and members of the “independent working group” who oversaw their work. 

“I hereby move the board recess into executive session to discuss personnel matters regarding the employment, compensation and discipline of public officials,” Gasser said. 

 

****

INITIAL REPORT 

The Ohio State Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. today to discuss the future of football coach Urban Meyer. 

An investigation into how Meyer handled allegations assistant coach Zach Smith abused his then-wife began August 6 and concluded Sunday. 

The trustees were briefed on the results of the investigation Monday and announced plans to meet in executive session today. 

Meyer has been on leave since August 1. 

In a statement published two days later, Meyer said he had followed all protocols regarding a reported incident in 2015.

>>RELATED: Updated timeline surrounding the Urban Meyer investigation

The school said at the outset of the investigation an ultimate decision on Meyer’s fate would be made by university president Dr. Michael Drake after consultation with the board.

A date or time for the final decision has not been set. 

Meyer was hired as the school’s 24th football coach in November 2011. 

He has led the Buckeyes to a 73-8 record with two Big Ten championships and a national title. 

His 90.1 winning percentage at Ohio State is the best in school history, and his mark of 85.1 is the best among active coaches in the country. 


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