Ohio State trustee resigns, believes Urban Meyer punishment was lenient

One Ohio State trustee has resigned from his position in the aftermath of the university’s decision to suspend head coach Urban Meyer for three games.

In an interview with the New York Times, the trustee, Jeffrey Wadsworth, said the suspension for Meyer was too lenient. Meyer was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 1 and, after a two-week investigation, was given a suspension for the way he handled the misconduct of assistant coach Zach Smith over the course of several years, including alleged domestic abuse.

“I didn’t feel that I’d seen high-integrity behavior,” Wadsworth told the Times of Meyer.

Wadsworth was a ‘lone’ opposing voice

Last Wednesday, the Ohio State Board of Trustees met with University president Michael V. Drake for nearly 12 hours in deliberating the punishment for Meyer. Among that group, Wadsworth described himself as a “lone voice” calling for a more severe punishment for Meyer, who is suspended without pay until Sept. 3, and also cannot coach his team until Week 4 against Tulane.

The university commissioned an outside group to investigate the way Meyer responded to multiple instances of misconduct by Smith that was known within the football program and athletic department, including a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against his then-wife, Courtney.

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Urban Meyer through his career
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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Mary Jo White led that investigation and said in a press conference that a main part of the decision to levy a three-game suspension, instead of a more severe penalty, was because the investigators could not prove Meyer “deliberately” lied when he said he didn’t know about the 2015 allegation at Big Ten Media Days.

Other findings included Meyer communicating with director of football operations Brian Voltolini about deleting old text messages from his phone. The investigative report also said Meyer had “significant memory issues.”

Wadsworth is skeptical. From the Times:

The inquiry also found that Mr. Meyer had sought to delete records from his cellphone. And it found that Mr. Smith’s behavior, including failure to pay cellphone bills, a stint in rehab for substance abuse and “promiscuous and embarrassing sexual behavior” raised several other red flags. Mr. Smith has denied ever abusing his former wife, who made the allegations.

Investigators found discrepancies between Mr. Meyer’s account of some events and others’, and in at least one instance suggested that Mr. Meyer had lied to them.

“You read the report,” Mr. Wadsworth said, “and there’s seven or eight things about emails, memory loss, hearing things five times, and to me, that raised an issue of standards, values — not how many games someone should be suspended for."

‘What message were we sending?’

Wadsworth said when the board was deliberating the number of games Meyer would be suspended, the larger conversation was lost. For that reason, he decided to leave the meeting when it broke for lunch and not return.

“It became clear to me where we were, discussing penalties, and I wasn’t ready to do that,” he said. “I was in a different place. I felt that getting into a limited number of games that was a suspension missed the point of a bigger cultural concern about ‘What message were we sending?’ ”

Wadsworth, the first trustee to speak publicly about the deliberations, said the possibility of firing Meyer was raised, but the discussion shifted toward a suspension early on. He sent his resignation to Drake via email “about an hour” after the decision was made public, he told the Times.

Wadsworth, the former president of Battelle Memorial Institute, a nonprofit science and technology company based in Columbus, was once a chairman of the board.

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