On Monday, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer held his first press conference since returning from his three-game suspension.
Throughout his time speaking to the media on Monday, Meyer stressed that he was not suspended for turning a blind eye to domestic violence and that his decision to keep former assistant coach Zach Smith on his staff for so long was his attempt at helping "a troubled employee with work-related issues."
Meyer added that he was not lying at Big Ten Media Days when he said, "There was nothing," in response to a question about Zack Smith being arrested in 2015 in relation to domestic abuse against his now-ex-wife Courtney Smith. Meyer elaborated by saying he was asked the night prior to when he spoke to the media about a felonious arrest against Zach Smith, but after texting Ohio State personnel with potential knowledge of any situation, he was told there was no arrest that took place, so that is how he approached the questions.
"I want to be clear that there was zero intent to mislead," he said Monday.
In August, Zach Smith said he only learned of the domestic violence allegation related to the 2015 incident because Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith notified him.
Another piece of information Meyer harped on during the press conference was that he did not delete any text messages Ohio State tried to find during its investigation. He said he gave his phone to a member of the Ohio State IT department months before the investigation to fix issues he was having on the device, and when he got it back it was set to only store certain information for just one year.
When asked if he believes Courtney Smith is a victim of domestic violence, Meyer continuously said he could only rely on the information he received from the "experts" and what he was told by the police when he was first made privy to the situation. He added that he never reached out to Courtney Smith himself because there was an open investigation he did not want to compromise, and Meyer also mentioned he never talked with his wife Shelley about the matter, even though Shelley Meyer and Courtney Smith exchanged text messages about the issues.
"I made a mistake, not in domestic violence," Meyer said. "Where I made a mistake was in not asking enough questions, and in a complete reliance on law enforcement. When you hear, "No charge, no arrest," how far can you go? What do you do next? You can't go out and investigate."
Meyer said that his error was in giving Smith "second and third chances" and trying to help his assistant get his life in order through "intense counseling." Meyer also said that when he heard from AD Gene Smith in 2015 that there had been “a domestic incident involving Zach and Courtney," he told Zach that if it that were true, "he was fired immediately." Meyer also referenced a report that both Zach Smith and former Buckeyes assistant Tom Herman (now Texas's head coach) went to a strip club while on a recruiting trip in 2014 and said he warned his assistants that they would be fired if it happened again.
In a statement released Monday before the press conference, Meyer said he was able to "reflect" during his time away from the program and "learn" from the events that eventually led to his three-game suspension.
Meyer said he will "always regret" how handled the situations surrounding Smith because "it's clear I could have done a better job."
The three-time national champion reaffirmed his commitment to treating women with respect and acknowledged his apology to Courtney Smith, Zach Smith's ex-wife who accused him of domestic violence. Meyer also apologized to Ohio State president Michael Drake, his colleagues at the university, the players and the fans.
Additionally, Meyer thanked offensive coordinator Ryan Day and the rest of the team for the 3–0 start they got off to while Meyer was suspended.
Check out Meyer's full statement below.
On Sunday, Meyer appeared on ESPN and apologized to Courtney Smith in the first segment of a two-part interview with Tom Rinaldi.
Meyer, who is in his seventh season as the Buckeyes coach, will return to the sideline for the first time in the 2018 season on Saturday when Ohio State hosts Tulane.