Georgia’s Todd Gurley was suspended four games by the NCAA in 2014, for making $400 off of signing autographs. And just recently, North Carolina had multiple players suspended the same number of games for selling team-issued shoes.
But how many games is Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer suspended for taking no action against an alleged domestic abuser on his coaching staff? Three. An embarrassing “punishment” compared to what others get punished in the same sport.
Ohio State had every chance to do the right thing. They took steps in the right direction by putting Meyer on leave. They hired an investigative team which did a thorough job, and it seems like they had deep, thought out conversations.
But at the end of the day, winning football games was more important than doing the right thing for “The” Ohio State University. In a day and age where people are becoming more aware about relationship violence, Ohio State decided to neglect all of that.
Here is why Ohio State should be embarrassed in every aspect of this debacle.
This whole process started when it was reported by Brett McMurphy that former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith had a domestic violence civil order filed against him by his ex-wife, Courtney Smith. Meyer, thereafter, fired Smith.
Then begins one of Urban Meyer’s multiple fumbles throughout this mess. At Big Ten media day, even after getting advice from athletic director Gene Smith about what to say, Meyer stepped up to the podium and spewed lies.
Meyer said that he knew nothing of Zach Smith’s domestic violence incident in 2015, and even went on to tell reporters “I don’t know why someone would create a story like this.”
McMurphy then releases another article, detailing the aspects of Courtney Smith’s unhealthy relationship with Zach Smith, with text messages of proof that Zach Smith did in fact abuse her, and more text messages about Meyer potentially knowing.
Next, Meyer releases a statement on his Twitter account, saying that he reported the incident properly in 2015 and that his statements at Big Ten media day were not completely accurate.
Just two days after Meyer was put on paid leave by the school, he already made himself look like a fool. He admitted that he was a liar on Big Ten media day.
But that was only the start of mishaps for Meyer, as the school continued with their version of an investigation.
The School’s Findings
About two weeks later, it was time for Ohio State’s investigative team to release the results. On the final day, the board of trustees met for over 10 hours.
Now, one would think, in a case this serious, discussions by the board would consist of whether or not to fire Urban Meyer. But amazingly, it was reported that the board of trustees wasn’t advocating for his firing…they were advocating for him to serve no punishment at all!
The only person with the slightest bit of decency seemed to be Ohio State president Michael Drake. Even after the board allegedly sat in a room discussing that Urban Meyer should serve no punishment, Drake was reportedly the one pushing for the suspension.
No, the suspension isn’t nearly enough, but at least he was one of the few people in the Ohio State community pushing for some sort of punishment.
After these long discussions, the final verdict was announced: A three-game, slap on the wrist suspension for Urban Meyer.
When I went to read the 23 page report, I expected mostly total denial. But I was in shock when the report acknowledged pretty much everything Meyer did wrong.
These things included 1)The acknowledgement that he was aware of the 2015 police investigation regarding Zach Smith. 2) The fact that he did mislead everyone when he spoke at Big Ten media day. And 3) Finding that Meyer asked about deleting texts off his phone that were over a year old when media reports first surfaced about his knowledge of what happened in 2015.
But to no surprise, with every acknowledgement came an excuse. Excuses such as blaming his medication for his memory being off. Another one detailing how “he didn’t know everything” regarding Zach Smith.
And my favorite excuse of them all, to paraphrase: He lied but he didn’t lie on purpose on Big Ten media day.
Aftermath of Findings
Even after the investigation concluded, Meyer wasn’t done making a fool of himself. His demeanor at his press conference made it seem like he didn’t care. And of course, his only apology was to “Buckeye Nation,” (seemingly his only supporters). He showed very little remorse on the situation.
The press conference was so brutal that he actually had to apologize for it two days later. He finally apologized to Courtney Smith and her kids, but it was too late. The damage has already been done.
Zach Smith has proven to be a bad person. There is no place in the world to do the things that he did to his ex-wife. I haven’t even mentioned in depth him taking explicit photos of himself at the White House and at the school’s football facilities, which the findings also concluded.
But there are many people to blame as to why he was employed much too long. Urban Meyer, as well as other people at Ohio State, knew enough. They knew enough to do the right thing and help a person in need.
It is not enough to simply acknowledge your mistakes in a domestic violence situation. Action needs to be taken and people need to be held responsible for allowing this to happen.
No, Urban Meyer didn’t physically abuse anyone. And neither did the investigative team at Ohio State. But that’s not the point.
Urban Meyer has had multiple chances to do the right thing, but he simply hasn’t.
And the investigative team at OSU also had a chance to do the right thing. The right thing to do would have been to fire Urban Meyer.
But ultimately, they chose winning over morality. There is no other way to put it.
So congratulations, Ohio State. When you were given the choice of winning football games and taking a stand against domestic violence, you chose winning.