Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer issued a lengthy statement Friday afternoon to defend himself against allegations he mishandled a domestic violence allegation.
Meyer was placed on administrative leave Wednesday afternoon, hours after a report surfaced alleging he was aware assistant coach Zach Smith had been accused of abusing his then-wife in 2015.
The school announced Thursday it has formed an a committee to oversee the investigation.
Under the direction of interim coach Ryan Day, Ohio State began practice Friday morning.
In his newest statement, Meyer reiterated his commitment to respecting women as one of his program’s core values.
“It is not lip service,” Meyer wrote. “I genuinely believe we have an obligation to help develop the young men in our charge into positive change agents and that responsibility rests with me.”
Perhaps more significantly, he refuted previous statements about being unaware of a 2015 incident between the Smiths.
During Big Ten Media Days in Chicago on July 24, Meyer went so far as to say that story was made up.
“Here is the truth: While at the University of Florida, and now at The Ohio State University, I hav always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating issues to the proper channels,” Meyer wrote Friday. “And I did so regarding the Zach Smith incident in 2015. I take that responsibility very seriously and any suggestion to the contrary is simply false.”
He says he “failed on many fronts” when answering questions about the incident initially.
“My intention was not to say anything inaccurate or misleading. However, I was not adequately prepared to discuss these sensitive personnel issues with the media, and I apologize for the way I handled those questions.”
It is unclear if anyone at Ohio State was aware Meyer would be issuing such statements or how it might affect the investigation, which by all appearances is ongoing.
“I understand that there are more questions to be answered, and I look forward to doing just that with the independent investigators retained by the university and I will cooperate fully with them,” Meyer wrote. “At the appropriate time, I will also address the questions and speculation in a public forum, but for now out of respect to the ongoing inquiry, I will refrain at this time.”
Meyer concluded his statement saying he is confident he took the appropriate action and looks forward to rejoining his team soon.
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