Urban Meyer admits he knew about abuse allegations against ex-WR coach in 2015

Urban Meyer admitted in a letter posted to Twitter on Friday that he knew of domestic violence accusations against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith in 2015.

Meyer’s admission that he knew Courtney Smith had accused her ex-husband of abuse three years ago is a departure from what Meyer said at Big Ten Media Days on July 24. Meyer told assembled media in Chicago that he was previously completely unaware of any accusations of abuse from 2015 — but knew about an accusation of abuse in 2009 when Zach worked for Meyer at Florida — and even went so far as to accuse the report of the 2015 accusation of being made up.

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‘I have always followed proper reporting protocols’

Meyer said in his letter that he’s always followed proper procedure and did so when he learned that Courtney had accused Zach of abuse in 2015.

Screenshots of text messages between Courtney Smith and the wives of other Ohio State staff members — including Meyer’s wife Shelley — show that she told them of the accusations and even included pictures of bruising.

“Here is the truth: While at the University of Florida, and now at The Ohio State University, I have always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels,” Urban Meyer wrote. “And, I did so regarding the Zach Smith incident in 2015. I take that responsibility very seriously and any suggestion to the contrary is simply false.”

“The power of what I say and how I say it, especially regarding sensitive and serious domestic issues, has never been more evident than now. My words, whether in a reply to a reporter’s question or in addressing a personnel issue, must be clear, compassionate and most of all, completely accurate. Unfortunately, at Big Ten Media Days on July 24 I failed on many of these fronts. My intention was not to say anything inaccurate or misleading. However I was not adequately prepared to discuss these sensitive personnel issues with the media and I apologize for the way I handled those questions.”

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CHICAGO, IL - JULY 24: Ohio State Football head coach Urban Meyer speaks to the media during the Big Ten Football Media Days event on July 24, 2018 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 24: Urban Meyer the Head Coach of the Florida Gators is pictured during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats on September 24, 2005 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Florida won 49-28. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 30: Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer talks with his defense during a game against ther Alabama Crimson Tide at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field September 30, 2006 in Gainsville, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
08 JAN 2007: University of Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer and wide receiver Dallas Baker (81) receive a Gatorade bath after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes during the BCS National Championship game held at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. Florida defeated OSU 41-14 for the national title. Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images.
GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators walks the sidelines while taking on the Florida State Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium November 24, 2007 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Florida head coach Urban Meyer flashes a big smile after he sat down with Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, not shown, at a media conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida, Wednesday, December 10, 2008. Florida and Oklahoma will play in the 2009 FedEx BCS National Championship Bowl. (Photo by John VanBeekum/Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 01: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators stands on the field before the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats at the Louisana Superdome on January 1, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Florida head coach Urban Meyer celebrates with his wife, Shelley, after the Gators' 31-17 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Saturday, September 18, 2010. (Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
Florida head coach Urban Meyer signals for a touchdown during the Gators' 34-31 overtime victory over Georgia at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, Saturday, October 30, 2010. (Photo by Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
Urban Meyer, former head coach of the Florida Gators, is seen before the start of the game between the Broncos and Dolphins. The Denver Broncos defeated the Miami Dolphins, 18-15, in overtime at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Sunday, October 23, 2011. (Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 1, 2012: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes takes questions from the media after a game with the Miami Redhawks at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes won 56-10.(Photo by David Dermer/ Diamond Images/ Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 8: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches as his team warms up prior to the start of the game against the Central Florida Knights on September 8, 2012 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio defeated Central Florida 31-16. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 7: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes and his daughter Nicole Meyer, left, and wife Shelley Meyer sing Carmen Ohio with the Buckeye football team after the Buckeyes' 42-7 victory over the San Diego State Aztecs at Ohio Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 19: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes on the sidelines during game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Ohio Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 30, 2013: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes answers questions front he media during the post game press conference after a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Buckeyes won 42-41. (Photo by David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 18: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches his team warm up before a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Ohio Stadium on October 18, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 25: Urban Meyer head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes coaches during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 25, 2014 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
06 December 2014: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer celebrates with the Big Ten Championship trophy named the Stagg Championship Trophy in action during the NCAA Big 10 Championship football game between the Wisconsin Badgers and Ohio State Buckeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
January 1, 2015: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer receives the winning trophy during the Ohio State Buckeyes game versus the Alabama Crimson Tide in their College Football Playoff Semifinal played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Scott Donaldson/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
January 1, 2015: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer watches during the Ohio State Buckeyes game versus the Alabama Crimson Tide in their College Football Playoff Semifinal played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
12 January 2015: Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Devin Smith (9) hugs the trophy with Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer and wife Shelley as following the Ohio State Buckeyes game versus the Oregon Ducks in the College Football Playoff National Championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Ohio State won 42-20. (Photo by Ray Carlin/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - JANUARY 28: Urban Meyer, head football coach at Ohio State University, hits his tee shot on the 16th hole during the pro-am prior to the start of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on January 28, 2015 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
19 September 2015: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer and his family sing Carmen Ohio to the fans following the game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Northern Illinois Huskies at the Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Khris Hale/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes holds the Fiesta Bowl trophy after the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Ohio State Buckeyes beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 44-28. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes calls out instructions to his players during the second quarter of the game against the Bowling Green Falcons on September 3, 2016 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 8: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches his team play against the Indiana Hoosiers at Ohio Stadium on October 8, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Indiana 38-17. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 26: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts on the sideline during overtime of the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on against the Clemson Tigers during the 2016 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 31, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 07: Ohio State Buckeyes Head Coach Urban Meyer addresses members of the media during a press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus, Ohio on August 7th, 2017. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 07: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer walks to the sideline after checking on Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Branden Bowen (not pictured) who was injured during first quarter game action between the Maryland Terrapins and the Ohio State Buckeyes (10) on October 7, 2017 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State leads Maryland 20-7 at the end of the first quarter. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Urban Meyer the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes holds the winner's trophy after 27-21 win over the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts during the Big Ten Championship against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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The letter does not detail who or where Meyer made his reporting to or how he found out about the accusation. Given that Shelley Meyer was directly told of the allegations, it seems implausible that she would have withheld that information from Urban. 

Smith remained on Ohio State’s staff until July 23, when he was fired after Courtney obtained a protection order against him. His firing came after college football reporter Brett McMurphy reported the 2009 and 2015 accusations.

Meyer on July 24: ‘There was nothing’

Meyer said at Big Ten Media Days that he and Shelley had intervened when Courtney accused Zach of pushing her against a wall when the couple resided in Gainesville in 2009 but that the recent revelation of the 2015 accusation had taken him by surprise.

Here are his full remarks to a question about Zach Smith on July 24. Before his news conference, Meyer told a group of reporters that he had done some research about the 2015 accusation the night before and didn’t find anything.

“In 2009 Zach was an intern, a very young couple,” Meyer said at his news conference. “As I do any times, most coaches and people in leadership positions, you receive a phone call, first thing you do is tell your boss, let the experts do their jobs. We’re certainly not going to investigate. “

“It came back to me that what was reported wasn’t actually what happened. And [wife] Shelley and I actually both got involved because of our relationship with that family and advised for counseling and wanted to help as we moved forward.

“2015, I got a text late last night something happened in 2015. And there was nothing. Unless, once again, there’s nothing – once again, I don’t know who creates a story like that.”

“And then this recent one was you press pause, it’s something our team lives by, E + R = O, you press pause and get your mind right and step up, press pause and gather information, get your mind right, gather energy, and then step up to do the right thing. That’s the position I hold. That’s how we did that.”

 

Meyer’s full letter

My heart is heavy today as I witness the toll that events of the past week have taken on the Buckeye Family and the university community that I love so dearly.

When I stand before the 105 young men in our football program and talk about core values and doing the right thing and respecting women, it is not lip-service. I genuinely believe that we have an obligation to help develop the young men in our charge into positive change agents and that responsibility rests with me.

Over the past several days, I have been portrayed as being indifferent to domestic violence and as someone who did not take appropriate action when warranted. While over three decades of coaching I have learned to ignore how others define me, I do feel it necessary to share the truth with the Buckeye family.

Here is the truth: While at the University of Florida, and now at The Ohio State University, I have always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels. And, I did so regarding the Zach Smith incident in 2015. I take that responsibility very seriously and any suggestion to the contrary is simply false.

The power of what I say and how I say it, especially regarding sensitive and serious domestic issues, has never been more evident than now. My words, whether in a reply to a reporter’s question or in addressing a personnel issue, must be clear, compassionate and most of all, completely accurate. Unfortunately, at Big Ten Media Days on July 24 I failed on many of these fronts. My intention was not to say anything inaccurate or misleading. However I was not adequately prepared to discuss these sensitive personnel issues with the media and I apologize for the way I handled those questions.

I understand that there are more questions to be answered and I look forward to doing just that with the independent investigators retained by the University and I will cooperate fully with them. At the appropriate time, I will also address the questions and speculation in a public forum. But for now, out of respect for the ongoing inquiry, I will refrain at this time.

Please know that the truth is the ultimate power and I am confident that I took appropriate action. As I stated above, I deeply regret if I have failed in my words. As the son of an amazing woman and the husband to another and, as the father of two incredible young women, those who know me best know the admiration and respect I have for all women. Our core values are just that — values that do not ever waver.

I ask that you continue to support the incredible coaches and student-athletes in our program, and I look forward to rejoining them soon.

– – – – – – –

Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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