Ohio State’s board of trustees has set a meeting for Wednesday, following a briefing Monday by investigators, at which it could decide the fate of the Buckeyes’ decorated head football coach, Urban Meyer. He was placed on paid administrative leave at the start of this month, after he acknowledged making conflicting statements about his knowledge of 2015 domestic violence accusations made against a longtime assistant who was fired in July.
Ohio State’s trustees subsequently hired an outside investigative firm to look into what Meyer knew and did about the alleged actions of the former assistant, Zach Smith. They will hold a public meeting Wednesday before going behind closed doors to discuss a possible recommendation to university president Michael V. Drake, who has final say on what measures are taken.
Drake has no official deadline, but the school signaled Aug. 5 that it wanted to come relatively quickly to a decision on Meyer, saying in a statement that the investigation was “expected to be completed within 14 days.”
In a statement Monday (via ESPN), Ohio State said that its board would not “deliberate or discuss any public business or make any decisions today based on the information presented during the session,” adding, “Today’s briefing is to ensure that board members are adequately prepared to discuss this matter at Wednesday’s meeting.”
Smith was fired in late July, after his ex-wife, who divorced him in 2016, obtained a protective order against him in court. Following reports by college football reporter Brett McMurphy that police had looked into alleged incidents of domestic abuse by Smith in 2009 and 2015, Meyer said at a Big Ten media session that he had known of the 2009 episode, which was not previously made public, but claimed there was “nothing” to the later accusations, adding, “I don’t know who creates a story like that.”
Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney Smith, then reportedly produced evidence that she had discussed her abuse allegations in 2015 with Meyer’s wife, resulting in the coach being placed on leave. In response, Meyer acknowledged that he had “failed” to be “completely accurate” in comments he made at the media session, saying in a statement, “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 also asserted that he had known at the time about the 2015 accusations and had reported them to Ohio State administrators in accordance with school policies. No charges were filed as a result of the alleged 2015 incidents, and Smith has denied abusing his ex-wife.
The Buckeyes’ season begins Sept. 1 with a home game against Oregon State.
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