Ohio State University head football coach Urban Meyer has been placed on paid administrative leave amid an investigation into what Meyer knew about alleged abuse by an assistant coach.
"[Athletic director Gene Smith] and I agree that being on leave during this inquiry will facilitate its completion," Meyer said in a written statement. "This allows the team to conduct training camp with minimal distraction. I eagerly look forward to the resolution of this matter."
Offensive coordinator Ryan Day will serve as acting head football coach while Meyer remains on leave.
Last month, Ohio State fired receivers coach Zach Smith after Powell Police charged him with trespassing following an incident at his ex-wife’s apartment. Powell Police investigated a domestic violence incident involving Smith in 2015, but no one was charged.
When he fired Smith, Meyer said at Big Ten Media Days he was not aware of the 2015 incidents. But Smith’s ex-wife Courtney Smith tells Stadium TV that Meyer’s wife Shelley knew of the abuse.
“In 2015 I came forward with it," Smith said. "I told Shelley, I sent her some pictures, I spoke to her on the phone. Shelley said she was going to have to tell Urban. I said that’s fine, you should tell Urban. We can’t have somebody like this coaching young men."
Smith says she does not know if Shelley told her husband. Independent journalist Brett McMurphy published the pictures and text messages that he said shows Meyer and other coaches knew of the incident.
"The university is conducting an investigation into these allegations," the school said in a statement late Wednesday. "During the inquiry, Urban Meyer will be on paid administrative leave. Ryan Day will serve as acting head football coach during the investigation. We are focused on supporting our players and on getting to the truth as expeditiously as possible."
EXCLUSIVE: Longtime Urban Meyer assistant Zach Smith's ex-wife, Courtney Smith, opens up about reported domestic violence and what she believes Meyer knew. pic.twitter.com/dNWA9x2F4y
— Stadium (@WatchStadium) August 1, 2018
Meyer is heading into his seventh season at Ohio State, with a record of 73-8, a national title and two Big Ten Conference championships. Shelley Meyer is a registered nurse and is employed as an instructor at Ohio State.
According to the Associated Press, both Meyers and his wife could be in violation of Title IX policy on reporting allegations of domestic violence against university employees. That means Ohio State could fire Meyer with cause, according to provisions in his two-year contract extension, which was approved in April.
Meyer's total salary for the 2018 season is $7.6 million, making him the highest paid coach in the Big Ten and third-highest-paid nationally. In 2017, Meyer was the second-highest-paid employee at Ohio State.
Meyer was hired in November 2011 to replace former head coach Jim Tressel, who was fired for lying to the NCAA and university about rules violations committed by some of his players.