Report: Urban Meyer lied about knowledge of domestic violence incident with coach
Urban Meyer fired the longest-tenured member of his coaching staff last week after he was made aware of a 2015 domestic violence arrest he claimed he previously had no knowledge of, but a new bombshell report indicates the Ohio State coach was lying.
College football reporter Brett McMurphy conducted an interview with Courtney Smith, the ex-wife of former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith, and learned that Courtney exchanged text messages with the wives of other Buckeyes assistants and told them about Zach abusing her. One of the women she discussed the incidents with was Meyer’s wife Shelley, and text messages show that Shelley informed Courtney she was going to speak with Urban about the situation.
“Shelly said she was going to have to tell Urban,” Courtney told McMurphy. “I said: ‘That’s fine, you should tell Urban.’ I know Shelley did everything she could.”
A 2015 text message exchange between Shelley Meyer and Courtney Smith shows that Shelley was concerned for Smith’s safety.
Shelley: “I am with you! A lot of women stay hoping it will get better. I don’t blame you! But just want u to be safe. Do you have a restraining order? He scares me”
Courtney: “Restraining orders don’t do anything in Ohio-I tried to get protection order which is what started this whole investigation. And that should go through soon finally. It’s hard bc you have to prove immediate danger. Legal system is tough. Basically you have to prove he will kill u to get protective order”
Shelley: “Geesh! Even w the pics? Didn’t law enforcement come to your place ever??”
Zach Smith has been arrested multiple times after being accused of domestic violence, but he has never been charged. The first arrest came in 2009 while he was a member of Meyer’s staff at Florida. McMurphy previously shared some information from the police report in that incident, and it stated that Smith brought a female co-worker home to his and Courtney’s house and that he became violent with his ex-wife. While the information McMurphy shared came directly from the police report, Meyer said at Big Ten Media Days last week that “what was reported” was inaccurate.
In that particular incident, Courtney said she decided not to press charges after being pressured by Hiram de Fries, a member of Meyer’s staff whom Meyer calls his “life coach,” and Earle Bruce, who is Zach Smith’s grandfather and succeeded Woody Hayes as the head coach at Ohio State from 1979-87.
Courtney said she agreed to a face-to-face meeting with de Fries at a Panera Bread restaurant a few days after Zach was arrested in 2009.
“He said, ‘If you don’t drop the charges, Zach will never coach again,’” Courtney said. “‘He’s never hit you before. He was drinking. He’ll probably never do it again. You should think about giving him a second chance.’”
Courtney convinced herself that de Fries was right, but she says Zach continued to physically and emotionally abuse her.
“When we came to Columbus and after I had my daughter (in 2012), things got really bad,” she told McMurphy. “I believed his life was spiraling out of control. He was only 28 when he got (the Ohio State job), his grandmother died. Maybe it was the stress but he was emotionally and physically abusing. Pushing me against the wall, putting his hands around my throat. There were so many instances. It’s hard to recall all of them.”
Courtney finally decided to file for divorce from Zach in 2015. Photos that Courtney said she shared via text message with other wives of Ohio State coaches show bruises on her neck and arms from abuse she says took place in 2014 and 2015. An additional photo shows blood gushing out of her thumb after Zach cut her with the metal top of a tobacco can in 2014. Courtney said she called 911 “a handful of times” over the years but always hung up out of fear that Zach would lose his job.
“Zach once told me if he ever got fired and this all comes out: ‘I’ll take everyone at Ohio State down with me,'” Courtney told McMurphy.
All of this is obviously very bad news for Meyer. He can’t reasonably claim that he had no knowledge of the 2015 incident involving his assistant coach when the victim texted his wife numerous times about it. Given the latest reports, the comments Meyer made about the situation last week sound even worse.