In a strongly worded statement posted to his Twitter account, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer acknowledged that he was aware of a 2015 incident of alleged domestic abuse involving a former assistant coach but that he “followed proper reporting protocols and procedures," and that “any suggestions to the contrary are false.”
Meyer was placed on administrative leave as the university conducts an independent investigation into what Meyer knew and when regarding accusations of abuse involving wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who was fired late last month.
“Here is the truth,” read Meyer’s statement. “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 the issues to proper channels. And I did so regarding the Zach Smith incident in 2015. I take that responsibility very seriously and any suggestions to the contrary are false.”
Coming one day after Meyer was placed on leave, the statement stands as a strong pushback against claims that Meyer covered up the allegations levied against Smith, who played for Meyer at Bowling Green and is the grandson of his coaching mentor, former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce.
However, Meyer did apologize for his remarks at Big Ten media days last month, when he claimed to have only recently found out about the 2015 incident. In those remarks on July 24, Meyer said that members of his staff had looked into the allegations and found “nothing,” adding, “I was never told about anything, anything never came to light, never had a conversation about it, so I know nothing about that."
“The power of what I say and how I say it, especially regarding sensitive and serious domestic issues, has never been more evident than now,” Meyer said in his statement.
“Unfortunately, at Big Ten media days on July 24, I failed on many on those fronts. My intention was not to say anything inaccurate or misleading. However, I was not adequately prepared to discuss these sensitive personnel issues with the media, and I apologize for the way I handled those questions.”
Meyer added that he “will cooperate fully” with the school’s investigation, and that he is “confident I took the appropriate action.”
“As I stated above, I deeply regret if I failed in my words,” read Meyer’s statement. “I ask do at you continue to support the incredible coaches and student-athletes in our program, and I look forward to rejoining them soon.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.