Report: Meyer was aware of abuse claims against fired Buckeyes coach

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Ohio State coach Urban Meyer knew of allegations of domestic violence against an assistant coach fired last week at least as far back as 2015, according to college football reporter Brett McMurphy.

FILE PHOTO: Nov 4, 2017; Iowa City, IA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer reacts during the fourth quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa won 55-24. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Meyer called wide receivers coach Zach Smith’s firing a “very tough call” when asked about it at Big Ten media days in Chicago last week, but claimed past allegations of domestic violence against Smith that came to light last week entered into the decision.

McMurphy says he has seen a series of text messages between Courtney Smith, Zach Smith’s ex-wife, and Shelley Meyer and other coaches’ wives that show Urban Meyer was aware of the allegations since at least Oct. 2015.

“I was never told about anything,” Urban Meyer said of allegations against Smith, per McMurphy. “Never anything came to light, never had a conversation about it. So I know nothing about it. I asked people back at the office to call and see what happened, and they came back and said they know nothing.”

McMurphy says texts obtained from Courtney Smith prove that Shelley Meyer, a registered nurse and instructor at Ohio State University College of Nursing, and Lindsey Voltolini, the wife of longtime Urban Meyer assistant Brian Voltolini, both knew of her claims in 2015 and had passed along the information to the head coach.

According to a reported exchange between Courtney Smith and Lindsey Voltolini, Urban Meyer said Zach Smith had denied everything and that Urban Meyer didn’t “know what to think.”

Meyer didn’t go into details surrounding the dismissal of Smith. His firing came in the wake of reports that an Ohio judge issued a protection order to keep Smith from within 500 feet of his ex-wife.

Smith was charged with criminal trespassing related to an argument in May with Courtney Smith. Police have looked into disputes between the former couple for at least nine years, including a 2009 incident when Zach Smith worked for Meyer at Florida, according to reports.

McMurphy reported last week that Zach Smith was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of aggravated battery on a pregnant victim (believed to be Courtney Smith) in Gainesville, Fla., and in 2015 on felony counts of domestic violence and felonious assault against Courtney Smith in Powell, Ohio.

“We’re very clear of our expectations. We decided to make a change,” Meyer said.

Regarding the 2009 incident, Meyer said he reported it to his supervisors at Florida, and he was advised to recommend counseling for Zach Smith, who was an intern at the time.

Smith, who also served as the Buckeyes’ recruiting coordinator, played for Meyer when the latter coached at Bowling Green. The late Earle Bruce, a former Ohio State coach, was Smith’s grandfather.

Meyer said he received input into the decision to fire Smith as well.

“I do understand the value that the Ohio State University is bigger than all of us,” Meyer said. “It wasn’t just my decision. It was other people I relied on.”

Graduate assistant and former Ohio State receiver Brian Hartline is the interim wide receivers coach.

—Field Level Media

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