Urban Meyer opens to handling charges against Zach Smith, a response to Courtney Smith

Urban Meyer opens to handling charges against Zach Smith, a response to Courtney Smith

Coach Urban Meyer says he made a "bad decision" when he decided to bring Zach Smith to Ohio State, and that he had alerted sports director Gene Smith to the legal history of the football assistant.

Meyer told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi that he could not remember why he had not informed his sports director, and noted that it was a few years ago, but said, "In hindsight, I should have."

"I just can not tell you exactly what my attitude was at that time," Meyer Rinaldi said in an interview broadcast on Sunday morning.

Meyer also acknowledged that he had "erred" in his treatment of Smith.

"I was wrong when I decided to do my best to stabilize this situation," Meyer said. "And one of the things I look back on now – I should probably have fired him."

Meyer had been banned from training the Buckeyes' first three games for his handling of domestic abuse allegations against Smith and his belief in the allegations in July. Meyer's three-game suspension ended on Sunday.

Meyer, who was suspended without pay, was allowed to participate in the exercise in the last two weeks.

Smith was fired by his then wife, Courtney Smith, in July as a broad recipient of Buckeyes following a court hearing for alleged criminal abuses and a report on Smith Smith's allegations against Smith. Smith was arrested in the 2009 incident, while police in Ohio are not prosecuting in 2015.

Meyer told Rinaldi that he approached the arrest in 2009 one day after the incident and that the couple refused the incident with domestic violence.

"I was told that it was not domestic violence, that she threw him out of the house and that there would be no charges," Meyer said. "I was totally dependent on information from law enforcement agencies – there were no charges."

Meyer denied being notified of the allegations of abuse by Courtney Smith and his wife Shelley in 2015. He declined to "speak in her name" as Shelley Meyer treated her interactions with Courtney Smith.

"She has reasons why she did not respond," Meyer said. "And I'm not here to speak for Shelley, but she had reasoning and her reasoning was what it was, so she did not alarm me or just go somewhere with it."

Meyer said he chose to hire Smith in 2012 to familiarize himself with his offense. Smith also served as assistant to Meyer while he was Florida's head coach.

"Zach seemed to be a guy who was doing very well," Meyer told Rinaldi. "And I checked him, did background checks with the coaches he worked with, it was very high, very good grades, so I made the decision to hire him at Ohio State."

Ohio State Football has a list of "core values" that treat women with respect. Asked how Courtney Smith was respected or protected by the program, Meyer admitted, "This is a tough question now that all the information is out."

"I thought the best thing I could do with a very troubled marriage, with custody of children, and I really thought about it," Meyer said. "I thought the best thing I could do was try to stabilize this thing, if I fire it at this time, break the relationship, and see those two little kids, I've always thought of how you can help to stabilize you somebody.

"At that time, I thought I was doing the right thing."

Meyer was criticized for not apologizing directly to Courtney Smith at a press conference on August 22. He tweeted a public apology to Courtney Smith on August 24.

He told Rinaldi that he associates Courtney Smith with an "extremely difficult situation".

"A very difficult marriage, a situation that I wish I had known more and I wish I had done more," Meyer said.

Meyer said it "breaks my heart" to hear that Courtney Smith would believe that he would choose to help and facilitate an abuser. He added that he was sorry that he did not take the accusations seriously.

Ohio State's first game with Meyer back on the sidelines will be Saturday against Tulane.


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