Ohio State announced Wednesday evening that the school’s head football coach, Urban Meyer, was being put on paid administrative leave while the university investigates allegations that Meyer knew that a longtime former assistant coach had been accused of domestic abuse in 2015.
Meyer told media last week that he had not heard of those accusations until they came to light last week.
On Wednesday morning, an independent journalist published a report on Facebook in which the ex-wife of the former assistant coach, Zach Smith, explained that Meyer’s wife had extensive knowledge of the 2015 allegations, and that another coach’s wife had told her that Meyer had confronted Smith with the allegation.
During a news conference last week, one day after the 2015 allegations first surfaced publicly, Meyer denied having had prior knowledge of them.
In a statement Wednesday released by the university, Meyer did not address the discrepancy directly.
Referring to Gene Smith, the athletic director, Meyer said in the statement, “Gene and I agree that being on leave during this inquiry will facilitate its completion. This allows the team to conduct training camp with minimal distraction. I eagerly look forward to the resolution of this matter.”
The gesture of putting one of college football’s most successful and highest-paid coaches on leave as fall training camp approaches at one of the most football-mad universities in the country signals the seriousness with which Ohio State is approaching the prospect that a top official was cavalier toward misconduct.
The university and its athletic department are already the subject of another massive investigation and several lawsuits as more than 100 former students have accused a former team doctor of sexually abusing them for a nearly 20-year period beginning in the late 1970s. Three lawsuits regarding the doctor, Richard H. Strauss, who is deceased, feature former athletes accusing the university of not doing enough to stop him.
The statement on Meyer came from the university, not its athletic department. Ryan Day, a co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, will serve as acting head football coach.