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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Why didn’t Urban Meyer apologize to Courtney Smith at press conference?

Urban Meyer

One of the most scrutinized and criticized aspects of Urban Meyer’s press conference on Wednesday was his decision not to apologize to Courtney Smith when given the opportunity to do so.

Meyer’s three-game suspension was announced on Wednesday at a press conference discussing the findings of an investigation by Ohio State University. During a Q&A portion of the session, Meyer was asked about Courtney Smith, the woman who claims she was assaulted by her ex-husband Zach Smith, a former Buckeyes coach.

“What message do you have for Courtney Smith?” Meyer was asked.

“Well, a message for everyone involved in this … I’m sorry that we’re in this situation. I’m just sorry we’re in the situation,” he said.

Meyer did not apologize to Smith, who claimed she was assaulted by Zach during their marriage. Courtney’s protective order filed against Zach led to his firing last month. Meyer’s decision not to apologize was met with widespread criticism as many viewed him as being insensitive to Courtney’s plight and the seriousness of domestic violence allegations.

So why would he decline to show any empathy towards Courtney? Perhaps the best explanation is that Urban, and his wife Shelley, do not believe Courtney’s allegations.

The investigation’s summary of findings states that both Urban and Shelley did not believe Courtney’s side of the 2009 and 2015 domestic violence allegations.

Here are the examples, along with the page in the summary of findings where the quoted material appeared.

Urban and Shelley did not believe Courtney’s 2009 allegation

“Coach Meyer and Shelley Meyer took away from the 2009 events that Courtney Smith was not being entirely truthful when she called 911 to have Zach arrested.” (page 4)

“Coach Meyer did not inform others at OSU about Zach Smith’s 2009 arrest. Coach Meyer has explained that he did not do so because no charges were filed and because he believed Zach Smith had not engaged in domestic violence in 2009.” (page 5)

Urban and Shelley did not believe Courtney’s 2015 allegation

“Because they believed Zach Smith’s denials and because there was no charge or arrest in connection with the 2015-2016 events, neither Coach Meyer nor AD Smith believed that there had been a violation or a potential violation of the law and therefore neither had reporting obligations regarding what they knew about the law enforcement investigation of Zach Smith.” (page 17)

“Shelley Meyer also maintains that she did not relay Courtney Smith’s expression of fear or allegations of abuse, including the photographs, to Urban Meyer at the time because she had doubts about the veracity of Courtney Smith’s allegations.” (page 8)

A big component of Urban Meyer’s defense is that he did not think Zach Smith assaulted his then-wife Courtney. That was his excuse for keeping Smith on staff until the protective order was reported. By not apologizing to Courtney in the press conference, maybe Urban Meyer feels he is doubling down on his stance that he does not believe Courtney’s allegations and therefore has nothing to apologize for. After all, if Meyer believed Zach Smith assaulted Courtney and still kept him on staff, that would have qualified as cause for termination.

Whether or not he truly believes Zach Smith is innocent, he has now tied himself to the defense and may feel he needs to stick with it.

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