Urban Meyer knew of 2009 incident involving assistant fired after domestic charge

Heather Diaz
August 2, 2018

On Tuesday, instead of talking about being defending Big Ten champions, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer spent much of his 15 minutes at the lectern talking about Zach Smith's dismissal, when he knew about the allegations, how he came to the decision to fire him, and where OSU goes from here. Police also investigated a dispute between Smith and his ex-wife when they were still married in 2009 and he was a member of Meyer's staff at Florida, according to college football reporter Brett McMurphy.

Meyer said it's not known yet whether or not Brian Hartline, a graduate assistant for Ohio State as of current, will be shifted into a permanent coaching role now that Smith is absent.

Meyer was scheduled to speak to reporters at Big Ten Media Days on Tuesday. "So Shelley and I actually both got involved because of our relationship with that family and advised for counseling and wanted to help moving forward".

Cleveland.com reports Courtney Smith also filed a protective order against Zach Smith following an incident in May in which he was charged with criminal trespass.

Meyer says the move was the best thing for his team.

In addition to the 2009 incident, police responding to a call in 2015 at the Smith residence were told by Smith's wife "that a domestic incident happened last night at her home and that she has been a victim of sustained physical abuse by the suspect".

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"I really don't care about that", Meyer said. "Unless, once again, there's nothing - once again, I don't know who creates a story like that". He said it did "a little bit". "I said, '2015?' That was only a couple years ago", Meyer said.

"I do understand the value that the Ohio State University is bigger than all of us", Meyer said. You have to do what's right by them. "It was a group effort (by) several people that I rely on".

But even more importantly, coaches can not be aligned with such matters.

Of course, there is a report that Meyer has been "secretly" shopping Smith to other programs.

Only Meyer can truly answer those questions, and he wasn't in a hurry to dive into those personal matters for public consumption. No charges were filed. Either Heeke admits that, yeah, Tate did undermine his hiring, or that he was prepared to move forward against his quarterback's wishes. While the details are extremely different, it's basically the same excuse that people like Joe Paterno and Art Briles gave in their cases, claiming it was out of their control and assuming it's all just a coincidence that the same person kept getting accused of the same offenses.

Asked if his relationship with Bruce was a "factor" in his handling of Smith, Meyer said, "Coach Bruce now is the strongest relationship I've ever had other than my father". Instead of firing Smith then, Meyer chose to keep him on staff. The decision was made.

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