Ohio State’s Meyer put on leave, investigation opened

Ohio

Urban Meyer’s job appears to be in jeopardy.

Ohio State placed Meyer, one of the most successful coaches in college football history, on paid administrative leave Wednesday while it investigates claims that his wife knew about allegations of domestic violence against an assistant coach years before the staff member was fired last week.

Courtney Smith, the ex-wife of fired Buckeyes assistant Zach Smith, gave an interview to Stadium and provided text messages to former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy between her and Shelley Meyer in 2015 about Zach Smith’ behavior. Courtney Smith also provided threatening texts she said came from her ex-husband, and text messages between her and other wives of Buckeyes assistant coaches, discussing Zach Smith.

“Shelley said she was going to have to tell Urban,” Courtney Smith told Stadium. “I said: ‘That’s fine, you should tell Urban.’”

Zach Smith, who has never been convicted of any crimes, was fired last week after an Ohio court granted a domestic violence protective order to Courtney Smith. A message left by the AP for Zach Smith’s attorney, Brad Koffel, requesting comment was not immediately returned.

Meyer is heading into his seventh season at Ohio State, where he is 73-8 with a national title in 2014 and two Big Ten Conference championships. Shelley Meyer is a registered nurse and is employed as an instructor at Ohio State. Both Meyer and his wife could be in violation of Ohio State’s Title IX sexual misconduct policy on reporting allegations of domestic violence against university employees.

Violation of university’s policy could result in Meyer being fired with cause by the university, according to provisions placed in his contract when it was extended by two years in April. The new deal runs through 2022 and increases Meyer’s salary to $7.6 million in 2018, with annual six percent raises for the bulk of his compensation.

Hours after Courtney Smith’s interview was posted online Wednesday, Ohio State announced in a short news release it was conducting an investigation into the allegations and Meyer was being placed on leave.

Offensive coordinator Ryan Day will serve as acting head coach for the Buckeyes, expected to be one of the top teams in the nation again this season. Ohio State’s first preseason practice is scheduled for Friday. The season starts Sept. 1 with a game against Oregon State in Columbus, Ohio.

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