Paul Vernon/Associated Press
With his suspension officially over, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is once again addressing the controversy that kept him away from the program for three games.
In an interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi, Meyer says he was never trying to dismiss or downplay the domestic violence allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith.
“My intent was to try to help all involved,” Meyer said. “The only way that I knew how at the time, and I had two choices: fire a man and really put a family in upheaval financially, etc., or try to stabilize someone so you can go up and be a good father.”
He added that he “probably should’ve fired” Smith as soon as the allegations came to light rather than making the “decision to do the best I can to help stabilize that situation.”
Meyer also emphasized his feelings about domestic violence and why his suspension wasn’t the result of ignoring allegations against one of his assistant coaches:
“I’m very clear on my view of life, on my view of people, and domestic violence is at the forefront. I can’t stand when I see it. I can’t stand when I hear it. For anyone at this university to believe that Urban Meyer would turn his back on domestic violence, I need to leave.
“It’s very clear, my stance on domestic violence. I was not suspended for that. I was suspended because I mismanaged a very troubled employee and I went too far to help him.”
Smith worked on Meyer’s staff at Florida from 2005-09 and joined him at Ohio State in 2012. Bill Landis of Cleveland.com reported last month that domestic violence allegations against Smith made by his ex-wife dated back to 2009.
During Ohio State’s investigation into Meyer’s handling of Smith, the university revealed text messages between Courtney and Shelley Meyer:
Chris Vannini @ChrisVannini
From Ohio State's latest records release, some text messages between Courtney Smith (in blue) and Shelley Meyer. https://t.co/nCx2gAM47v
Urban told Rinaldi he had knowledge of those texts until recently.
“The first time I heard of those texts were just recently in the last month,” Meyer said. “Shelley did not share text messages with me.”
Ohio State said neither Meyer nor athletic director Gene Smith “condoned or covered up the alleged domestic abuse” by Smith, but their failure to “take sufficient management action” led to both men being suspended by the university.