Ohio State coach Urban Meyer says it “breaks my heart” to hear that Courtney Smith would believe that he would choose to help and enable an abuser.
Meyer told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi in an interview that aired Sunday that he was trying to help former assistant coach Zach Smith, not dismiss the domestic violence allegations made by his ex-wife.
“My intent was to try to help all involved,” Meyer said. “The only way that I knew how at the time, and I had two choices: fire a man and really put a family in upheaval financially, etc., or try to stabilize someone so you can go up and be a good father.”
Meyer’s suspension ended Sunday. He had been prohibited from coaching the Buckeyes’ first three games for his handling of the domestic abuse allegations against Smith and how he represented his awareness of the allegations in July.
Meyer, who was suspended without pay, had been allowed to participate in practice the past two weeks.
Smith was fired as the Buckeyes’ wide receivers coach in July after a pre-trial hearing on a charge of criminal trespassing and a report detailing domestic violence allegations in 2009 and 2015. Smith was arrested in the 2009 incident, while police in Ohio did not pursue charges in 2015.
Meyer said his wife, Shelley, did not share with him the 2015 abuse allegations by Courtney Smith when she was made aware of them. He also denied being told about text messages between the two women.
“The first time I heard of those texts were just recently in the last month,” Meyer said. “Shelley did not share text messages with me.”
Ohio State football has a list of “core values” that includes treating women with respect. Meyer reiterated his stance on domestic violence in his interview with Rinaldi.
“I’m very clear on my view of life, on my view of people, and domestic violence is at the forefront,” Meyer said. “I can’t stand when I see it. I can’t stand when I hear it. For anyone at this university to believe that Urban Meyer would turn his back on domestic violence, I need to leave.
“It’s very clear, my stance on domestic violence. I was not suspended for that. I was suspended because I mismanaged a very troubled employee and I went too far to help him.”
Ohio State’s first game with Meyer back on the sideline will be Saturday against Tulane.