For years, the two most powerful coaches in college football have been Alabama’s Nick Saban and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer.
Combined, their teams have won nine of the past 15 national championships. They are giants in a sport where coaches are already exalted to mythical proportions, the highest-paid public employees in their states, their word greater and more important than even the presidents of their schools.
So the fact that Ohio State put Meyer on administrative leave on Wednesday, pending an investigation into what Meyer knew about an assistant coach’s history of domestic abuse, shocked many.
Photo: Greg Bartram, USA Today
Meyer, it always seemed, was larger than any law at his schools. Officials at the University of Florida, where he won two of his three national titles, did not appear to care about more than 30 arrests of his players there, including one who texted “Time to die bitch” to his girlfriend.
Leaders at Ohio State looked the other way when he hired Zach Smith, the assistant coach accused of domestic violence, after Smith had been arrested for pushing his pregnant wife into a wall back in 2009.
What Meyer wanted, Meyer got. Nothing mattered more than winning. At least until last month, when news broke that Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney, had filed a civil protection order against Smith, leaving Meyer no choice but to fire his longtime assistant and raising questions about whether Meyer had been protecting a man who had a history of hitting his wife.
Now Meyer’s job — and perhaps his career — hang onto whether he knew about another domestic violence incident involving Smith in 2015, one in which Courtney Smith told police in Powell, Ohio, that she “has been a victim of sustained physical abuse by the suspect.”
Meyer on July 24 told reporters at a Big Ten conference media session that he did not know of any abuse allegations about Zach Smith beyond the 2009 incident.
A report by former ESPN college football reporter Brett McMurphy on Wednesday showed evidence that Meyer knew about the 2015 incident, including a text exchange between Courtney Smith and Meyer’s wife, Shelley, in which Courtney Smith described being attacked by her then-husband.
However, Meyer seemed to backtrack on Friday, saying in a statement on Twitter that he “took appropriate action” in 2015 when responding to allegations against Zach Smith.
In his statement, he said he “failed on many fronts” in his remarks at the Big Ten conference.
“Here is the truth: While at the University of Florida, and now at the Ohio State University, I have always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating issues to the proper channels,” Meyer said.
“And I did so regarding the Zach Smith incident in 2015. I take that responsibility very seriously and any suggestion to the contrary is simply false,” he added, saying he would have no further comment.
A clause in Meyer’s contract says that if he must report any “known violations” of Ohio State’s sexual misconduct policy, including “intimate violence and stalking.”
Meyer’s future at Ohio State likely depends on whether Shelley Meyer told her husband about her text exchange with Courtney Smith in 2015 and whether he lied when he told the Big Ten media he knew nothing about the alleged abuse.
If the group of school trustees, former US attorneys and politicians that Ohio State put together to investigate Urban Meyer believes he knew something in 2015 about possible abuse inflicted by Zach Smith and did nothing about it, no national titles or mythical stature will save him. He would likely be fired.
Additional reporting by AFP
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Taiwan Steel on Sunday grabbed three points with a narrow 1-0 win against Hang Yuan FC, to move into the No. 2 spot on the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) log, while Taipower FC beat NTUS 2-0 to maintain first place. Taking advantage early in the match of opposition defenders who had not yet settled down, Taiwan Steel’s attacking trio of Wu Chun-ching, Marc Fenelus from the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Benchy Astama from Haiti pushed forward with good passes. After only one minute of play, Fenelus dribbled from the right flank, feeding a short pass inside the penalty area to
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
STAYING COOL: Hamilton said that his ‘heart nearly stopped’ when he noticed the puncture, but he kept going to beat Alain Prost’s total of six home wins in France Lewis Hamilton said he feared he might not make it home when a last lap puncture almost derailed his charge to a record seventh British Grand Prix victory on Sunday. “I didn’t think I would make it round the last two corners,” the world champion said. The front left tire of his Mercedes had delaminated and deflated on his final lap, leaving the six-time world champion to nurse his vehicle to the finish as second-placed Max Verstappen hunted him down. “I just can’t believe it,” Hamilton said. “It was heart-stopping. I backed off and stayed chilled and was so glad it happened on