Ohio State University placed head football coach Urban Meyer on administrative leave Wednesday after a woman claimed he knew about domestic abuse allegations levied against an assistant football coach.
Meyer, scheduled to make $7.6 million this season, was placed on paid leave, the school announced Wednesday evening, just hours after Courtney Smith, ex-wife of former Ohio State assistant football coach Zach Smith, claimed Meyer knew about her 2015 domestic violence claim against her then-husband.
“I do believe he knew, and instead he chose to help the abuser and enable the abuser and believe whatever story Zach was telling everybody,” Smith said in an interview with Stadium, a sports network, on Wednesday. “When somebody is crying out for help, I believe, the coach along with the coach’s wife have a duty. They have a duty to do something to help.”
Courtney Smith also claimed she shared photos of bruises from the alleged abuse with Meyer’s wife, Ohio State nursing instructor Shelley Meyer, and asked her to tell her husband. Courtney Smith said Shelley Meyer agreed to notify her husband, although she never confirmed if she did.
The university opened an investigation into Courtney Smith’s claims on Wednesday and said offensive coordinator Ryan Day would act as head football coach during the probe.
“We are focused on supporting our players and on getting to the truth as expeditiously as possible,” the university said in a statement.
Meyer released a statement in the wake of the announcement, but it did not make reference to Courtney Smith’s claims.
“[Athletic Director] Gene [Smith] and I agree that being on leave during this inquiry will facilitate its completion,” his statement said. “This allows the team to conduct training camp with minimal distraction. I eagerly look forward to the resolution of this matter.”
Zach Smith was fired from Ohio State last month after he was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass during a dispute with Courtney Smith.
His attorney, Brad Koffel, told ESPN that his client planned to tell his side of the story in court.
“Zach Smith wants to be as transparent and honest as possible, but it is not going to be done today through the media. It will only be after he and his ex-wife are sworn in to testify,” Koffel said in a statement. “Once he gets his chance to tell his side of events, don’t be surprised when it is corroborated by every police who ever responded to Ms. Smith’s calls.”