In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer admitted Friday afternoon that he knew about a 2015 incident in which former assistant coach Zach Smith allegedly strangled his ex-wife, Courtney. After initially claiming ignorance at Big Ten media day—saying, “I know nothing, never had a conversation about that. Who would create a story like that, and if I [knew] I would have made a change”—Meyer said today that he did know about it and took some sort of action. He tried to spin it by insisting that he “[elevated] the issues to the proper channels,” but his statement gave no details about what those actions and channels were. He also made no mention of why it took nearly a week for him to clarify that he misspoke.
This means that, at best, Meyer knew about what happened in 2009 and in 2015 and still kept Smith on his staff. Why he kept Smith on his staff remains unaddressed by today’s statement:
Smith himself has gone on a media tour of sorts today, telling Columbus radio station 105.7 The Zone, “There’s a lot of things I did wrong. That’s between her and I. There was never domestic abuse. I never hit her.” College football reporter Brett McMurphy then released text messages between Courtney and Zach that seem to show Smith admitting that he choked Courtney in 2015.
Smith also joined ESPN for a pre-taped interview, in which he defended Meyer. He said that Meyer told him in 2015, “I swear to God, Zach, if I found out you hit her, you’re done.” He also repeatedly denied ever harming Courtney, saying, “Anything that happened to her body was all defensive movements to remove myself from the situation.” Regarding the 2009 incident, Smith says Meyer told him and “let due process run its course.”
Smith added that he never told Meyer about the 2015 incident, though he thinks Meyer found out from athletic director Gene Smith. Meyer is currently on paid administrative leave from OSU, and an independent working group has been formed to investigate Meyer.