I'm not going to get into a debate on whether or not Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer knew about the alleged domestic abuse allegations made Courtney Smith, the former wife of fired Buckeye assistant coach Zach Smith. I'll let the professionals determine that. Update: Meyer has admitted he knew but took all the proper steps in protocol, per SI.com.
There are pictures. There are texts. Brett McMurphy did a stellar job of reporting on this story via his Facebook page.
Former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who was fired Monday, was investigated on domestic violence and felonious assault allegations on Oct. 26, 2015 and also menacing by stalking on Nov. 9, 2015, the Powell (Ohio) Police Department disclosed on Tuesday.
On Monday, I initially reported about Smith’s Oct. 26, 2015 domestic violence and felonious assault allegations against his then wife Courtney Smith. The couple divorced Sept. 1, 2016.
The comments left on McMurphy's Facebook page are equally disturbing. It is an unfortunate part of Social Media but also foreseeable.
The deniers are pointing fingers at the media, Michigan fans and everyone but Ohio State, it seems. The believers are asking for heads to roll.
No matter which side to which you align, the devil is in the details. And there are some seemingly innocuous remarks made by Meyer in the past that have now become a focal flash point.
Urban Meyer, it appears, is a hypocrite.
He campaigned for youngsters to read books. But in a 2013 press conference, he said, "I don't read," according to a report by TheSportsBank.com.
Meyer also said this:
But in the end you’ve got to feel in your heart we’re doing the right thing; that we’re in the people business and we have to do what’s right by
those people. There’s never been one time that I thought that we did wrong by that person.
Now, sometimes I sit back and evaluate that we give too many
second chances. That seems to be a big key, and that’s something I’m going to continue to evaluate.
That was back in 2013. Since the arrest, conviction and ultimately, the suicide of Aaron Hernandez, a former Florida tight end who played under Meyer, has he learned anything?
According to McMurphy's report, Meyer was made aware of Smith's alleged domestic abuse in 2009 and in 2015. But at Big Ten Media Days held last week, Meyer denied having knowledge of the two incidents.
Proving someone (in a leadership position) knew about sexual harassment or abuse at an institute of higher learning can be difficult to prove. One cannot get into a brain and dissect a memory bank. But since Title IX comes into play here, it must be vigorously investigated.
For the most part, Ohio State looks like it is doing the right thing. Paying Meyer while on leave was smart—if he is terminated, the likelihood of Meyer claiming prejudice is not as strong. The Board of Trustees' forming an independent group to investigate the allegations shows the school is trying to remain as unbiased as well.
But something stinks.
What happened to "Treat Women With Respect"? Those four words are allegedly on a billboard in the Ohio State Buckeye's locker room.
Meyer is an educator. All educators are required by law to report any suspicion of abuse once they have a reasonable cause to believe it occurred. Usually, these situations involve a teacher suspecting a minor child has been abused.
Meyer still has to adhere to the school's "Employee's Duty to Report" policy, per McMurphy.
Included in the Employees Duty to Report section it says:
"anyone who supervises faculty, staff, students, or volunteers" is responsible "in addition to the requirement of reporting incidents of sexual assault, the following members of the university community have an additional obligation to report all other incidents of sexual misconduct, when they receive a disclosure of sexual misconduct or become aware of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that sexual misconduct may have occurred involving anyone covered under this policy. These individuals must report the incident within five work days of becoming aware of such information."
Smith, if the accusations are proven true in a court of law, is the real villain. But he is no longer employed by Ohio State—he was terminated on July 23. The person left at which to throw darts is now Meyer.
Meyer's "I didn't know" seems hollow. He has a history of permissiveness and ignorance.
Meyer's book, titled Above The Line, subtitled Lessons in Leadership and Life from a Championship Season seems so vacuous right now.
What lessons has he learned? Meyer has apparently given out second chances like candy despite questioning that very policy five years ago. His tenure at Florida included 31 players who were arrested. Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe he overlooked stuff. Maybe he did not want to believe what was happening under his watch in Gainesville.
Ignorance is bliss, right?
Not in college football.
Meyer will get the Paterno treatment.
After former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested for 50-plus counts of sexual abuse of minor children, then-head coach Joe Paterno was fired after an investigation revealed concealment of information regarding Sandusky's alleged crimes.
What Ohio State doesn't need is the Penn State scandal being mentioned under the same breath as its own scandal. But that is exactly what is happening.
Jay Paterno, Joe's son, is urging Ohio State to "stand up to the mob mentality," according to a Yahoo!Sports report. The cringes in C-bus are being felt across the college football landscape.
Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno were all winners as head football coaches. But their names to most fans (outside of their respective fan bases) will always be associated with TatooGate or Sandusky Scandal, respectively.
Meyer should not be terminated at this point. Right now, all we have is allegations, serious ones at that. But Meyer also looks pretty pathetic in how he has handled his role as a leader.
Americans are pretty forgiving. But most draw the line when it comes to domestic or sexual abuse. And that is a problem for Urban Meyer.
Mud will be slung. More stuff will be dug up that paints either Meyer or the school in an even worse light. There will be decommittments. The hand-made signs at football games will be awful. You can count on all of this and one more thing.
The cover-up, or failure to report, can be viewed by some as worse than the crime.
For this reason, and the collateral damage that will start to take its toll, Meyer should resign.