Urban Meyer Apologizes to Courtney Smith, and for Not Doing It Sooner

Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer speaking at a news conference on Wednesday after he was suspended for three games.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Seeking to quell concerns he came off as insensitive during a news conference this week, Ohio State’s football coach, Urban Meyer, on Friday tried again: This time, he unequivocally apologized to the woman who accused a former assistant coach of domestic violence, in a case that led to Meyer’s suspension.

The woman, Courtney Smith, has said that her former husband, Zach Smith, an assistant to Meyer, had abused her and that Meyer had long known about it. The university suspended Meyer on Wednesday for the season’s first three games, after an investigation found he had mishandled reporting of the case to administrators and had tolerated egregious professional misconduct by Zach Smith.

Meyer on Wednesday declined to directly address Courtney Smith when he was asked to do so at the news conference about his suspension.

“Let me say here and now what I should have said on Wednesday: I sincerely apologize to Courtney Smith and her children for what they have gone through,” Meyer said in the statement Friday.

He said his comments and demeanor on Wednesday “did not show how seriously I take relationship violence. I sincerely apologize.”

“I understand my lack of more action in this situation has raised concerns about this commitment,’’ the statement said. “I once again apologize for this, and I extend my empathy to all women, men and families who are affected by relationship violence. This has been a real learning experience for me. I fully intend to use my voice more effectively to be a part of the solution.”

A university report released on Wednesday found that Meyer had been aware of allegations of domestic abuse against Zach Smith from 2009 and 2015 but that Meyer had declined to discipline him. Meyer said the fact that Zach Smith was not prosecuted for domestic violence led him to believe there was no reason to pursue the case with university officials who handle such incidents.

Meyer fired Zach Smith on July 23 after a news report about Courtney Smith’s allegations and an order of protection she had recently received against Zach Smith.

The university’s investigation found that Meyer should have reported what he knew about the accusations to the proper university officials, though it also found that he had acted in “good faith” based on his understanding of the accusations.

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