Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer told reporters that he was aware of former receiver coach Zach Smith’s 2009 domestic violence arrest while Smith was working for Meyer as a grad assistant at Florida.
Smith was fired by the Buckeyes on Monday, three days after his ex-wife filed a protective order against him for trespassing on her property in May. Speaking at his Big Ten media day press conference on Tuesday, Meyer said firing Smith was done “in the best interest of our team.” Meyer continued that while he was not aware of Smith’s most recent actions, he was notified when Smith was arrested for the felony charge of aggravated battery back in 2009.
“Zach was an intern, a very young couple. As I do any time, that I imagine most coaches or people in leadership positions, you receive a phone call, you 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. Shelley and I actually both got involved because of our relationship with that family and advised her counseling and wanted to help as we moved forward.”
Meyer added that “there was nothing” to reports of police being called in 2015 over a potential domestic violence recurrence. The Ohio State coach addressed Smith’s most recent run-in with the law with a litany of coach-speak.
“You press pause, get your mind right, step up, press pause to gather information, get your mind right to gather energy, then step up to do the right thing, and that’s the position that I hold.”
Meyer’s revelation that he was aware of the 2009 incident at the time it happened sparked a series of questions from reporters. They asked if Meyer already knew about the 2009 arrest, and why Ohio State waited until the rest of the world found out to fire him. Meyer, a public employee, deflected when asked about the timing of the staff move, saying, “I’m not going to get into that, it’s personal. The decision was made, the details I was obligated to give, I gave.”
You can watch Meyer’s full remarks here: