Big Ten Media Days 2018: Urban Meyer addresses firing of Ohio State assistant Zach Smith
Meyer talked for the first time at Big Ten Media Days since firing Smith
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer didn't wait long to address the most pressing topic for him at Big Ten Media Days: the firing of wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Zach Smith amid multiple reports of domestic violence.
Specifically, Meyer said he was aware of a 2009 incident involving Smith and his then-wife, Courtney, while at Florida. However, Meyer admitted he was unaware of a separate domestic violence incident involving Zach and Courtney Smith from 2015.
According to Brett McMurphy, those two domestic violence incidents on Smith's record led to the couple's split in 2016.
In 2009, while he was a member of Meyer's staff at Florida, Smith was arrested for aggravated battery on a pregnant victim following an altercation with Courtney, who was three months pregnant at the time. No charges were filed in that incident. Meyer said he became involved in counseling Smith after he learned of the incident.
"In 2009, Zach was an intern," Meyer told reoprters. "As I do any time, and I imagine most coaches or people in leadership positions, when you receive a phone call, first thing you do is 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 what actually happened. So Shelley and I actually both got involved with the relationship with that family, and provided counseling, and wanted to help them moving forward."
Then, in October 2015 while on Meyer's staff at Ohio State, Smith was arrested again for felonious assault and domestic violence of his wife. That 2015 case remains open and Meyer claims he did not know about that case until Monday.
"I got a text last night that something happened in 2015, and there was nothing," Meyer told reporters.
Smith, a former player of Meyer's at Bowling Green, was after a protection order was filed against him by Courtney last Friday. The order came after Smith dropped their son off at his ex-wife's house and not a pre-determined public place, a violation of a criminal trespassing charge against him, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
Meyer said the decision was a "tough call" but added that "it was in the best interest of our team." The head coach did not elaborate when asked if the media reports of Smith's past influenced the decision.
"I'm not going to get into that. A decision was made," Meyer said. "The details I'm obligated to give, I gave. The decision was made, it's time to move forward."
A decision of who will replace Smith will be made later this week, per Meyer.
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