Ohio State suspends football coach Urban Meyer for 3 games, questions his texts

Urban Meyer.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

On Wednesday, the Ohio State University Board of Trustees suspended head football coach Urban Meyer for three games, without pay, following a two-week independent investigation of his handling of former assistant coach Zach Smith's alleged domestic abuse. Meyer has been on paid leave since Aug. 1, and he will not be allowed to work with the team until after the first game of the season, against Oregon State. The board also suspended Athletic Director Gene Smith from Aug. 31 to Sept. 16. Ryan Day, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, will continue leading the football team until Meyer's return.

"I appreciate the opportunity to learn from a mistake," Meyer said at a press conference Wednesday. "There were red flags (with Zach Smith). I wish I did a better job knowing things and finding out things. I wish people told me more things. ... I wish I had known more." Smith's ex-wife, Courtney Smith, said she told several people close to Meyer, including his wife, about Zach Smith's abuse long before he was fired in July. "I followed my heart and not my head," Meyer said. "At each juncture I gave Zach the benefit of the doubt."

The Ohio State Board of Trustees said they had tried to get ahold of Meyer's text message history from the period in which Courtney Smith says Zach Smith battered her in 2015, but when it obtained the phone on Aug. 2, it "was set to retain text messages only for that period (one year)." A day earlier, the board said, director of football operations Brian Voltolini texted Meyer a warning about an article claiming he knew about Smith's alleged abuse, and the two then discussed on the practice field "whether the media could get access to Coach Meyer's phone, and specifically discussed how to adjust the settings on Meyer's phone so that text messages older than one year would be deleted."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.