COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s current suspension and previous paid leave have restricted him from talking football with his staff and athletes during August with one exception – a team meeting the day after the suspension was announced.
Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith were allowed to meet with the players and coaches for about 45 minutes last Thursday, according to emails sent to Meyer by the senior vice president for human resources, Susan Basso.
The emails outlining the details of Meyer’s suspension were obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday through an open records request and first reported by Ohio State’s campus newspaper, The Lantern. Meyer can’t attend practices, meetings or official events, and can’t conduct any business related to being head coach.
Meyer and Smith were suspended over their handling of a now-fired assistant coach who was accused of domestic violence. Meyer resumes some coaching duties Monday but can’t coach during the first three games. He will be allowed to run practices after the team’s first game.
Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith met with the team on Thursday. Meyer received written details of the suspension on Sunday, four days after the discipline was announced publicly. At 5:53 p.m. Monday, Meyer was sent an email from Basso confirming that the Thursday meeting – “in order to apologize to the team” – had been authorized.
Meyer’s sideline substitute for the first three games will be 39-year-old co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ryan Day, a second-year Ohio State assistant who has never before been a head coach but has been filling in while Meyer is out.
The suspensions followed a two-week investigation that found Meyer and the athletic director mismanaged now-fired assistant coach Zach Smith, who was accused of domestic violence and other problematic behavior. Zach Smith – the grandson of former Ohio State coach and Meyer mentor Earle Bruce – has denied being aggressive with his ex-wife.
Meyer eventually acknowledged he was aware of domestic violence allegations from 2015 but didn’t fire Zach Smith until July 24, after his ex-wife was granted a domestic protection order.
Because Zach Smith wasn’t arrested for domestic violence in 2015, neither Meyer nor athletic director Gene Smith believed they were obligated to report it to university officials.
On Monday, Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano described his contact with Meyer.
“Well Urban is, before he’s my boss, he’s a friend,” Schiano said. “I’ve known him for over 20 years. So when I was allowed to, I did communicate. And that’s personal. It wasn’t about football. It was about him. Because I was worried about him. I’ll leave it at that.”
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