In April, Ohio State announced that its governing board had approved a two-year contract extension for Urban Meyer that raised his compensation for the 2018 season to $7.6 million.
The addition to Meyer’s contract also contained new provisions that could give the university ample latitude to fire him for cause, depending on the outcome of its investigation into allegations that he knew that former Buckeyes assistant coach Zach Smith was accused of abuse by his ex-wife. The university announced Wednesday that Meyer has been placed in administrative leave with pay while the investigation proceeds.
Meyer’s revamped contract was set to give him a $1.2 million raise over what he made for the 2017 season and $800,000 over what he was scheduled to be paid for 2018. At the time, the deal would have made Meyer the nation’s highest-paid public-school football coach in 2018 (Alabama announced new compensation terms for Nick Saban last week that will surpass Meyer’s.)
Meyer and Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith signed the amendment March 27.
The university announced its approval April 5 and distributed copies; however, the contract had not been signed at that point by the university's chief financial officer, making it not fully executed. The contract is set to run through the 2022 season.
The amendment includes two new specific contract provisions that could be at issue as Ohio State conducts its review.
To the section covering Meyer’s specific duties and responsibilities, a provision was added that reads in part: "Coach shall promptly report to Ohio State’s Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics any known violations of Ohio State’s Sexual Misconduct Policy (including, but not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, intimate violence and stalking) that involve any student, faculty, or staff that is in connection with a university sponsored activity or event."
For the purposes of this provision, the contract states, "a 'known violation' shall mean a violation or an allegation of a violation of Title IX that Coach is aware of or has reasonable cause to believe is taking place or may have taken place."
To the section covering reasons for termination for cause, a provision was added that states Meyer’s contract can be terminated if he fails to promptly report to the university’s deputy Title IX coordinator-athletics or the university’s Title IX coordinator "any known violations of Ohio State’s Sexual Misconduct Policy (including, but not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, intimate violence and stalking) that involve any student, faculty, or staff that is in connection with a university sponsored activity or event."
This new provision also states that: "It is recognized that this subsection" pertaining to grounds under which Meyer can be terminated for cause "encompasses findings or determinations of violations during employment of Coach at Ohio State or any other institution of higher learning."
The allegations concerning Smith reach back to a period of time during which was working for Meyer at Florida.