This summer, allegations of domestic abuse by Zach Smith, a former coach under Ohio State University’s head football coach Urban Meyer, against his ex-wife Courtney Smith arose. College football journalist Brett McMurphy claimed in an online report that Meyer was aware of this abuse and failed to report it.
The allegations had the state of Ohio and Buckeye fans everywhere in disarray. Could their beloved football coach really be involved in such a horrible incident?
After initially hearing these allegations on nearly every news channel, I was shocked to hear that someone like Urban Meyer, the grab a beer after work kind of guy, didn’t report allegations of abuse, especially considering the kind of microscope he’s constantly under.
As the summer months continued, more information surfaced about the accusations. Smith had an extensive history of abuse allegations and run-ins with the police.
In 2009, Smith was arrested for suspicion of aggravated battery against his wife, who claimed that she was grabbed by the neck and thrown against a wall during an early morning dispute. She was pregnant at the time with their son.
On another incident, Courtney Smith called the police on her ex-husband claiming that he had refused to give their son back after a parental visit and had experienced several more episodes of abuse. Police didn’t press charges due to insufficient evidence, even after Courtney presented photos of the various bruises on her neck and arms.
Other than working together, Meyer and Smith were connected in other ways. After the allegations about Smith arose, Zach’s ex-wife, Courtney, claimed that she and Meyer’s wife, Shelley, communicated via text messages about the abuse. So Meyer must have known about the abuse, right…?
After this allegation came to light, Meyer made a public statement saying that he did in fact know about the abuse and reported these allegations to the proper informants at Ohio State University. Thus, Meyer did take the proper actions to report the case of abuse, but, the report was either mishandled or lost along the way after Meyer had reported it.
Even after the attempt to clear up his name, Meyer has still been suspended for 3 football games as well as athletic director, Gene Smith.
I think the University handled the situation well. It was a tough decision to make due to the sheer power and support on both sides of the argument.
On one hand, Meyer is a crowd favorite. He’s brought home a National Championship to the state of Ohio and kicked M*chigan’s butt plenty of times. He’s made all the right decisions and helped produce a killer football team year after year. The Ohio State football fan base is certainly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to their coach.
On the other side of things, Women’s Rights Activists, members and supporters of the #MeToo movement and other advocates fighting against domestic violence couldn’t let Meyer get off so easy. Seeing Meyer go without punishment would’ve sent the message to the community that the University values football and the coaches, specifically the money they bring in, more than the safety and security of women.
If Meyer had been let go without any repercussions, what kind of lesson and statement make to the players? The community? My 14 year old brother who watches the games? Certainly not anything Ohio State would want to promote.
By suspending Meyer for 3 games gave both sides of the argument peace to some degree. He didn’t get off scotch free, but he also gets to spend a majority of this upcoming football season leading the Buckeyes to a victorious season.