COLUMBUS: Ohio State announced Friday that the investigation into football coach Urban Meyer’s response to domestic abuse allegations against former assistant Zach Smith will be completed Sunday, meeting the 14-day timetable the school set for itself when announcing details of the probe.
The investigators will then prepare a report, which will be delivered to the investigatory committee next week, Ohio State announced.
After the investigative report has been received, the university will call a board of trustees meeting next week. President Michael V. Drake will confer with the board in executive session about the findings of the investigation. The university must give public notice of the meeting at least 24 hours in advance, as required by Ohio law.
Drake will announce his decision about the future of Meyer will be made after “appropriate time for consideration” and deliberations with the board, the university’s announcement said.
While trustees will hear the investigatory report, Ohio State has said that any final decision on Meyer will be made by Drake. A decision would not be subject to a vote by trustees in public session.
Ohio State’s training camp began Aug. 3 and its football season starts Sept. 1. Meyer is on paid administrative leave and barred from any contact with the team while Ryan Day serves as the team’s acting coach.
Drake, in a radio interview on WOSU’s All Sides with Ann Fisher Thursday, did not speculate on possible outcomes of the investigation.
“We can imagine the world of possibility,” Drake said. “What we’re thinking of is really doing a good investigation. I’m pleased that, in consultation with the board, we brought in a really good team. There’s a great deal of interest in this investigation so we wanted to make sure we had really good information.”
The investigation is being led by Mary Jo White, formerly the head of the Security and Exchange Commission, and is being conducted by New York law firm Debevoise & Plimpton. Former Ohio Speaker of the House Jo Ann Davidson is the committee chair.
Fisher asked Drake about Davidson’s age — she’s 90 — and he said he wasn’t concerned about that.
“What we were looking for was citizens who brought experience and were as unbiased as we could find and who brought with them the respect of their careers and their wisdom, and she’s a perfect choice for that and we’re really pleased she was able to do that,” he said.
The committee was tasked with gathering information about Meyer’s handling of the Smith matter. At Big Ten media days, Meyer denied knowledge in 2015 of accusations against Smith, who was not charged.
Asked by Fisher if lying to the media was grounds for firing, Drake replied, “What we’re doing is an investigation to try to find out exactly what happened, why, what the context was, etc. I’m going to wait until I know those things before I make conclusions. I’ve been doing my best possible job to keep an open mind.”
Fisher asked whether athletic director Gene Smith might also be a subject of the investigation. Zach Smith said that the AD was the one who summoned him home from a recruiting trip in October 2015 after hearing of the allegations against him.
“We’ll say the team is investigating this particular set of circumstances,” Drake said. “I don’t know all the questions they are asking or what they’re going about. I’m waiting until they come forward with information, and then we’ll try to use that information to make the best decisions we can.”
COLUMBUS: Federal officials are investigating Ohio State University’s response to allegations against a team doctor now accused of sexual misconduct against scores of athletes and other male students in the 1980s and 1990s.
The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights will examine whether Ohio State has responded “promptly and equitably” to students’ complaints, including claims that school officials knew about misconduct by Dr. Richard Strauss but didn’t stop him, the school said Thursday. That office oversees enforcement of a federal law that bars sex discrimination in education.
Advocacy groups including the National Women’s Law Center had urged the department to conduct such a review, as was done with headline-making allegations of recurrent sexual misconduct by doctors at Michigan State University and the University of Southern California.
Ohio State’s chief compliance officer, Gates Garrity-Rokous, said the school has responded appropriately since allegations were made this spring about Strauss, who killed himself in 2005.
Some former students say they raised concerns about Strauss to university employees as early as the late 1970s, early in Strauss’ nearly 20-year employment there.
Ohio State has said allegations that staff didn’t properly respond back then are a key part of the ongoing independent investigation being conducted by the law firm Perkins Coie.
COLUMBUS: A glaring need and an unanswered question loomed large when Ohio State hired Chris Holtmann as its men’s basketball coach last summer.
A perceived drop-off in recruiting had led to the ouster of Thad Matta, the winningest coach in program history, bringing the need to recruit at an elite level to the forefront of the conversation by Athletic Director Gene Smith.
In stepped Holtmann, who had recruited and won against high-major programs during three years at Butler but had signed just a top-100 recruit in Kyle Young (Jackson). Would Holtmann be able to go toe-to-toe with Big Ten rivals and land top recruits?
A little more than a year later, Ohio State’s 2019 recruiting class is answering the question. With commitments from two ESPN five-star recruits — forward Alonzo Gaffney and point guard DJ Carton — the Buckeyes are on pace for a top-10 recruiting class and one of their strongest in nearly a decade.
“It’s phenomenal what [Holtmann] has done,” said Corey Evans, college basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals. “He has gotten two top-30 prospects, two guys nationally pursued. And doing it so early in the process, that’s the most impressive part about it.”
Ohio State’s two-man class is ranked fifth nationally in the 247Sports class rankings and tops in the Big Ten. That ties the ill-fated 2015 class for the highest national ranking for the Buckeyes since the 2010 class finished third, but its average national ranking of its members (26.5) surpasses the 2015 class (69.8).
“It’s an excellent job,” 247Sports recruiting analyst Brian Snow said. “[Holtmann] landed his top priority at the point guard position and he landed his top priority in-state and at the forward position in Alonzo Gaffney. Any time you get two of your top priorities who are two of the best players in the country, you have to think it’s an excellent job.”
Evans and Snow credited the staff Holtmann has assembled for the success, with Evans calling assistant coaches Terry Johnson, Ryan Pedon and Mike Schrage “head coaches in waiting.”
Schrage has experience on both coasts, Johnson handles much of the Midwest and Pedon is the Ohio recruiter. But all three mix and match throughout the country.
Ohio State has room to sign one more member for the 2019 class as next year’s roster is constructed. With Gaffney having committed in April and Carton in July, the Buckeyes have been able to focus on how they want to close out the class and have been able to put in legwork on the 2020 class.
The wish list for the final missing member of the class would be either a wing player, a versatile forward or a big man. Four-star power forward Zeke Nnaji from Hopkins, Minn., will take an unofficial visit to Ohio State this month, and four-star power forward E.J. Liddell from Belleville, Ill., has scheduled an official visit for the weekend of Aug. 31. Liddell included the Buckeyes among his top five final schools in a list posted to Twitter on Monday afternoon.
Three-member classes can be challenging to evaluate, Snow said, but adding a player like Liddell would make the 2019 class among the strongest in recent program history.
“Obviously [recruiting] had dipped some and it’s getting back to more where it was,” he said. “Now, is it still Greg Oden and Mike Conley and Daequan Cook and David Lighty? No, it’s not, but it’s still up there. It’s up to the level where you can compete to go to Final Fours and win a national championship with.”
COLUMBUS: Ohio State University has never contacted Courtney Smith about her accusation that ex-husband Zach Smith committed domestic abuse against her, her attorney said in a statement released Tuesday morning.
The attorney, Julia Leveridge, said her client has made “concerted efforts to press charges of domestic abuse against her ex-husband.” The police department in Powell, where the Smiths lived, has not filed charges against Zach Smith. Ohio State fired the wide receivers coach on July 23.
A six-person committee formed by Ohio State’s board of trustees is leading an investigation of football coach Urban Meyer’s response to the domestic-abuse accusations against Zach Smith stemming from 2015. Meyer is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome.
“As her attorney, I can tell you that Ms. Smith is cautiously optimistic that the Ohio State University’s investigative committee will determine if proper reporting protocol was followed upon learning of the ongoing abuse allegations against Zach Smith,” Leveridge said. “We believe the University must prioritize the safety and well-being of others above all else. While the Ohio State University has never contacted Ms. Smith to discuss these allegations, she will fully cooperate with the university’s current investigation.”
Ohio State did not respond to a request for comment.
OSU released some details about the committee Sunday, saying that former Securities and Exchange Commission head Mary Jo White will direct the investigation and that it was expected to be finished within 14 days. Ohio State President Dr. Michael V. Drake will make a decision, in consultation with the board of trustees, based on its findings.
Meyer said in a statement on Twitter posted Friday that he followed proper protocol in handling the matter three years ago. But many questions remain, including how Ohio State learned of the accusations. Zach Smith said he did not tell Meyer about them then, believing it to be a private matter.
Smith said he got a call from OSU athletic director Gene Smith while on a recruiting trip during Ohio State’s off week in October of that season and asked him to return home to deal with the accusations.
It is unclear who informed Gene Smith of the allegations. The Powell police department told The Dispatch that it did not contact Ohio State and would not, based on its policy.
Leveridge said Courtney Smith will not further comment until the two legal matters against Zach Smith — a criminal trespass charge and domestic-violence civil protection order — are resolved. Leveridge said Courtney Smith’s focus remains on caring for her young children and continuing her nursing studies.
Leveridge added that Courtney Smith “has received absolutely no compensation” for the interviews she gave with veteran national college football reporter Brett McMurphy and the sports website Stadium, which posted a video detailing her allegations last week.
Leveridge cited a statistic from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention that one in four women become the victim of domestic abuse.
“Cases such as this can be difficult to fully understand by those on the outside, who too often, shamefully cast judgment,” she said. “Ms. Smith is grateful to those who have shown her the support she deserves during this challenging time.”
COLUMBUS: She’s prosecuted terrorists and mob bosses.
She ran the powerful U.S. agency overseeing financial markets.
She’s a frequent resource for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
But for central Ohioans, power attorney Mary Jo White’s most important role might be her next one: leading the investigation into Ohio State University football coach Urban Meyer.
Ohio State, in an announcement late Sunday, said White will lead the team investigating allegations that Meyer knew about domestic violence by his former assistant coach Zach Smith in 2015.
As former U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, White led the prosecutions against the terrorists behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. She also handled a number of securities, financial fraud and white-collar crime cases, including the prosecution of mob boss John Gotti.
“That is widely considered to be the No. 1 federal prosecutors office in the country,” said Geoffrey Rapp, professor of law at the University of Toledo, with expertise in sports law. “This is going to be someone who is one of the top, if not the top, former federal prosecutors that’s available.”
White led the Securities and Exchange Commission from 2013 to 2017. After leaving the agency at the end of President Barack Obama’s administration, White returned to international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, where she is senior chair of the firm, litigation partner and leader of its Strategic Crisis Response and Solutions Group.
The New York firm is one of the most elite around, Rapp said, and “one that is a go-to firm for American corporations when they are dealing with very complex internal investigations.”
White has also been involved in a number of recent sports investigations. She was tapped this year to lead the NFL’s investigation into workplace misconduct allegations involving former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who was accused of sexual harassment and making racist comments. White’s findings substantiated claims made against Richardson and confirmed that the Panthers did not report the claims to the NFL until they became public.
White’s findings in the case resulted in a $2.75 million fine for Richardson, but some have criticized the investigation.
“[White’s] involvement with the Jerry Richardson review and investigation that the NFL did, I think a lot of people criticized the overall findings of that investigation,” said Ricky Volante, a lawyer with Buckley King LPA in Cleveland and adjunct professor of law at Case Western Reserve University, specializing in sports law. “Many felt the investigation lacked any real teeth to it, in particular the punishment and the fine that was given to Richardson.”
The NFL also named White as one of four external advisers in the investigation into former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, accused of multiple instances of physical violence against his ex-girlfriend. While no criminal charges were filed against him, the NFL investigation led to a six-game suspension for Elliott. He and his legal team fought the ban, but the Dallas Cowboys player ultimately served the suspension last season.
In 2012, White also oversaw the NFL’s investigation into allegations that players on the New Orleans Saints were given bonuses or “bounty” payments for plays that injured opposing players. That investigation resulted in numerous suspensions of coaches and players.
With White, Ohio State is bringing in an investigator with credibility, but one that also leaves flexibility, legal experts said.
“If you want to make sure that people respect your investigation, you’ve got to bring in unimpeachable outsiders, like Mary Jo White,” Rapp said.
“Ohio State is certainly leaving itself enough wiggle room to possibly — whether with a fine or something of that nature — keep Meyer in place,” Volante said.
Whatever the outcome, White has her work cut out for her. Ohio State said in its Sunday announcement that the investigation is expected to conclude within 14 days.
“Fourteen days seems optimistic, but I’d understand that there’s some pressure to get to an answer quickly,” Rapp said, citing the fast-approaching college football season.
“It’s a double-edged sword. Setting a timeline that is that expedient does make the investigation susceptible to not getting the whole story, and maybe even painting the picture that this is more a formality than a real investigation,” Volante said. “What’s going on here is more important than football, however; college football is a business, and they need to make sure that business is protected.”
Urban Meyer defended himself Friday, admitting he was not forthright when questioned last week about 2015 allegations of domestic violence against one of his assistant coaches, but also insisting he handled the situation properly at the time.
The assistant Meyer fired, Zach Smith, also spoke up, denying he abused his wife, backing his former boss and placing Ohio State’s athletic director into the middle of the picture.
Two days after Ohio State sidelined Meyer and opened an investigation into what its superstar coach knew and did about the accusations of abuse made against Smith by his ex-wife, two central figures in this college football drama answered some questions — and left much to be explained.
Meyer posted a statement addressed to Buckeyes fans on Twitter not long after his team, expected to be one of the best in the nation, opened practice for the upcoming season without him. Meyer was put on paid administrative leave Wednesday.
While Meyer’s statement was still being digested, Smith went on Columbus radio station 105.7 The Zone. In the interview, Smith said Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith questioned him during the 2015 football season about the allegations made by Courtney Smith that fall. Police reports were made about two separate incidents, but Zach Smith has never been criminally charged.
Zach Smith was fired last week by Meyer, a few days after his wife obtained a protective order against him.
Smith also did an interview with ESPN. He said he never assaulted his wife and any physical injuries she might have suffered were the result of him defending himself.
He said Gene Smith was alerted by police about the 2015 allegations. Zach Smith said after speaking to Gene Smith about them, then he spoke to Meyer. He said Meyer told him then he would fire Smith if the head coach found out Smith hit his wife.
“I don’t know what else Urban Meyer could have done,” Zach Smith told ESPN.
The crisis at one of the most storied programs in college football history comes as the school is reeling from a sexual abuse scandal involving a now-dead sports doctor, Richard Strauss.
The Buckeyes open the season at home Sept. 1 against Oregon State. Co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day is acting head coach and there is no timetable for the Meyer inquiry to conclude.
“Over the past several days I have been portrayed as being indifferent to domestic violence and as someone who did not take appropriate action when warranted,” Meyer said.
“Here is the truth: While at the University of Florida and now at the Ohio State University I have 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 the issues to the proper channels. 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.”
At Big Ten media days last week, Meyer said he knew of an incident involving the Smiths in 2009 and that he and his wife, Shelley Meyer, addressed it with the Smiths. He was also asked about a 2015 incident alleged by Courtney Smith, who also said she told Meyer’s wife about those incidents.
“I can’t say it didn’t happen because I wasn’t there,” Meyer said at the time. “I was never told about anything and nothing ever came to light. I’ve never had a conversation about it. I know nothing about it. First I heard about that was last night. No, and I asked some people back at the office to call and say what happened and they came back and said they know nothing about it.”
Meyer said his intention at media day was not to say anything inaccurate.
“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,” Meyer said.
Meyer said he will fully cooperate with investigators. Ohio State did not respond Friday to a request seeking comment on the comments by Meyer or Smith, who told the radio station his marriage was volatile and that he made mistakes. The Smiths divorced in 2016.
“I don’t believe I have ever threatened her or anyone,” said Zach Smith, who had been an assistant at Ohio State since Meyer was hired in 2012, in the radio interview.
Smith, the grandson of late Buckeyes coach Earle Bruce, a mentor to Meyer, played for Meyer when he was coach at Bowling Green in 2001-02. Smith also was a graduate assistant for Meyer at Florida for five seasons.
In 2009, Zach Smith was accused by his wife of assault, but charges were not filed. Meyer has said he and his wife, Shelley, counseled the couple at the time. Courtney Smith has also said she told Shelley Meyer about the 2015 incidents and shared pictures of injuries through text messages that she shared with college football reporter Brett McMurphy .
In one text to Courtney Smith, Shelley Meyer said of Zach Smith: “He scares me.”
Meyer has been at Ohio State for six seasons, going 73-8 with a national championship in 2014 and two Big Ten conference titles. He earlier won two national titles at Florida.
Ohio State’s policy on sexual misconduct says anyone who supervises faculty, staff, students or volunteers has a duty to report “when they receive a disclosure of sexual misconduct or become aware of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that sexual misconduct may have occurred involving anyone covered under this policy.”
A clause in Meyer’s new contract, which raised his salary to $7.6 million this year and runs through 2022, also requires him to “report to Ohio State’s Title IX athletics any known violations” of the sexual misconduct policy involving students, faculty or staff at the risk of being fired with cause.
Firing Meyer without cause would cost Ohio State a nearly $40 million buyout.
COLUMBUS: Ohio State closed ranks around the rollout of its football season as the university investigates whether coach Urban Meyer failed to report domestic abuse allegations, a scandal hitting a school already accused of not facing up to sexual misconduct allegations against a sports doctor.
The Buckeyes plan to open their first football practice Friday without Meyer, who was put on administrative leave during the inquiry and also suspended from an endorsement deal by restaurant chain Bob Evans. It’s not clear how restrictive the paid leave will be for the coach who is expected to earn $7.6 million for the 2018 season after getting a raise earlier this year.
Ohio State officials said Thursday that reporters would be barred from football practices until at least next week, and university trustees announced that a six-member committee will lead the investigation.
Co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day has been named acting head coach.
“Due to the ongoing investigation, football coaches and student-athletes will not be available for interviews until further notice and all practices will be closed,” Ohio State spokesman Jerry Emig said in an email.
Meyer’s future with one of the most storied programs in college football depends on how he managed allegations that Buckeyes assistant and recruiting coordinator Zach Smith abused his ex-wife, Courtney Smith — answering the questions of what Meyer knew and when.
Courtney Smith alleged Wednesday that she told Meyer’s wife, Shelley, about the abuse in text messages and phone conversations in 2015 and that Shelley Meyer indicated she would tell the head coach.
Courtney Smith’s allegations — including the text messages — were reported by former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy on his Facebook page and in a video interview with Smith.
“In 2015, I came forward with it,” Courtney Smith said in the interview.
“I told Shelley, I sent her some pictures [of injuries], I spoke to her on the phone.”
Meyer told reporters last week that he didn’t know anything about the 2015 incident. It is not clear what contact Meyer had, if any, with university officials about the situation until Smith was fired last month. Smith has never been criminally charged.
Separately, a court hearing for Zach Smith was postponed Thursday on a domestic protection order sought by his ex-wife.
She asked for the order after a July 20 disagreement and the court action resulted in Zach Smith being fired from Ohio State, where he was set to make $340,000 for the 2018 season.
The Smiths are due in court in September and their lawyers did not respond to messages seeking comment Thursday.
Ohio State is investigating Meyer while also facing three federal lawsuits about its response to allegations of groping, leering and other misconduct by a deceased athletic department doctor who treated wrestlers and other students for two decades.
The lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by Dr. Richard Strauss say Ohio State facilitated the abuse by ignoring complaints.
Since Ohio State announced an independent investigation in April, more than 100 former students have come forward with accounts of sexual misconduct by Strauss. The allegations range from 1979 to 1997 and involve male athletes from 14 sports, as well as his work at the student health center and his off-campus medical office.
The questions confronting Meyer involve whether he vouched too strongly for a coach he’s considered family. Zach Smith, 34, is the grandson of Meyer’s mentor and former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce.
He played for Meyer as a walk-on at Bowling Green, worked for him at Florida and was hired as the wide receivers coach when Meyer came to Ohio State in 2012.
Meyer acknowledged last week that he had been aware of a 2009 domestic-abuse incident in Gainesville, Fla. He said he and Shelley counseled the couple and allowed Zach Smith to remain on his staff.
Meyer ended up as the Ohio State coach because of a previous football scandal. Coach Jim Tressel was fired in 2011 for lying to the NCAA and university about rules violations committed by some of his players.
The Ohio State probe bears similarities to previous scandals at other big-time college programs, centering on whether a team’s leader properly reported potential wrongdoing.
The similarity prompted the son of late Penn State coach Joe Paterno to weigh in with his opinion about public response criticizing Meyer, comparing Meyer’s situation with the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Jay Paterno, who was an assistant coach to his father and is an elected Penn State trustee, said in a blog post that “we should wait for facts” before calling for the Buckeyes coach to be fired.
Joe Paterno’s career four-decade career as Penn State coach ended when he was fired amid questions about how much he knew about Sandusky’s past crimes and whether he acted appropriately with allegations he was told of by an assistant coach.
“As Penn Staters, we’ve seen the forces of innuendo, implication and allegation damage the lives and careers of good innocent people,” Jay Paterno wrote, saying Americans should demand more.
COLUMBUS: The ex-wife of Zach Smith said she informed Urban Meyer’s wife, Shelley, in 2015 that the former Ohio State assistant football coach had abused her and believes that the Buckeyes coach knew about it at the time.
Courtney Smith acknowledged in an interview, however, that Shelley Meyer did not say she told Urban Meyer about the abuse.
Urban Meyer has been placed on paid administrative leave as Ohio State investigates the Ohio State football coach’s response to the domestic abuse allegations regarding fired wide receivers coach Zach Smith.
“The university is conducting an investigation into these allegations,” said the statement from OSU released at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday.
Offensive coordinator Ryan Day will serve as acting head coach during the investigation.
“[Athletic director] Gene [Smith] and I agree that being on leave during this inquiry will facilitate its completion,” Meyer said in the OSU statement. “This allows the team to conduct training camp with minimal distraction. I eagerly look forward to the resolution of this matter.”
The announcement came hours after the ex-wife of Zach Smith said that she told Meyer’s wife, Shelley, in 2015 about the abuse she said that the fired wide receivers coach inflicted on her. Courtney Smith said she believed that Urban Meyer knew of the abuse, though she acknowledged she did not know for sure.
Meyer, 54, has a 73-8 record at Ohio State, including the inaugural 2014 College Football Playoff championship. He has not had more than two losses in any season.
His overall coaching record, which also includes stops at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, is 177-31, including two national titles at Florida.
Day has never served as head coach. He was promoted from co-coordinator to sharing offensive coordinator duties this year after he rejected a job offer from the Tennessee Titans.
The ex-wife of Zach Smith said she informed Urban Meyer’s wife, Shelley, in 2015 that the Ohio State assistant football coach had abused her and believes that the Buckeyes coach knew about it at the time.
Courtney Smith acknowledged in an interview, however, that Shelley Meyer did not say she told Urban Meyer about the abuse.
In a video posted to the sports website Stadium, Courtney Smith said she sent pictures of her injuries via text message to Shelley Meyer and discussed her troubled relationship with her now ex-husband on the phone with her.
“Shelley said she was going to have to tell Urban,” Courtney Smith told the website, which released the interview Wednesday. “I said, ‘That’s fine. You should tell Urban. We can’t have somebody like this coaching young men.’ ”
Courtney Smith said that Shelley Meyer later would ask how she was doing and offered her help, but did not know for sure whether Shelley told her husband about her alleged abuse.
“I do believe he knew and instead he chose to believe the abuser and enable the abuser,” Courtney Smith said.
Urban Meyer said at the Big Ten football gathering last week in Chicago that he was aware of a 2009 incident in Florida in which Zach Smith was charged with aggravated domestic battery. Meyer was the coach at the University of Florida at the time and Zach Smith was an intern with the program. Meyer said last week that he and Shelley worked with the couple and encouraged counseling.
Meyer added, however, that he had no knowledge of an October 2015 incident in which Powell police were called to Courtney Smith’s home one day after an alleged assault by Zach Smith. No charges were filed, and two weeks later Courtney Smith filed for divorce.
“I can’t say it didn’t happen because I wasn’t there,” Meyer said on July 24 of the 2015 incident. “I was never told about anything. Never anything came to light. I never had a conversation about it. So I know nothing about that.
“The first I heard about it was last night. I asked people back at the office to call and see what happened, and they came back and said they know nothing about it.”
Court documents unsealed on Wednesday after a request was filed by The Dispatch provide some details about the Smiths’ marriage and divorce. In her affidavit filed Dec. 18, 2015, Courtney Smith alleges a tumultuous marriage in which “Zach has made threats toward me and has become physically violent.” She added that he threatened to withhold a portion of his employment bonus to her unless she withdrew her domestic violence protection order filed five months earlier.
Courtney Smith had the filed sealed “to protect certain personal interests which, if published, may negatively affect [Zach Smith’s] occupation, the parties’ financial circumstances and the children’s well-being.”
Courtney Smith filed a civil protection order against her ex-husband on July 20. Smith, the grandson of former OSU football coach and Urban Meyer mentor Earle Bruce, was fired by Meyer on July 23.
“The stalking and harassment never stopped,” Courtney Smith in the court documents. “He never followed the shared parenting plan and would tell me he didn’t have to because he knew I couldn’t afford to pay for an attorney.
“He would corner me in my laundry while groping me and pulling his pants down and begging for sex.”
She described hidden cameras she found in her home, which she said were used by Zach to surveil her, their children and her boyfriend.
National college football reporter Brett McMurphy, formerly of ESPN, reported in a Facebook post earlier Wednesday that Courtney Smith told him that several wives of OSU football personnel knew about the alleged abuse.
“All the [coaches] wives knew,” Smith told McMurphy. “They all did. Every single one.”
The Columbus attorney who represented Zach Smith in the 2015 matter said that he did not share details of the allegation with Urban Meyer or other OSU officials. Larry James said that it would have been a breach of attorney-client privilege to do so.
“Do I have any reason to believe that the university or coach would have known of that situation? The answer is no,” James said.
Bradley Koffel, who is Zach Smith’s current attorney, said that his client kept Meyer in the dark about his legal brushes. Smith was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing in May after he dropped off the couple’s son at Courtney’s home instead of at a different site when he couldn’t reach his ex-wife.
A Powell police officer told Zach Smith five months earlier that he could no longer go to Courtney’s home to drop off their two children, but the Smiths’ shared parenting plan allows for him to do so.
“I can tell you as a matter of fact,” Koffel texted The Dispatch on Wednesday, “that Zach never told Coach Meyer about the 2018 criminal trespass even after I told Zach, ‘Urban shouldn’t have to hear about this in the news someday.’
“I now understand why Zach compartmentalized the info — to protect Urban. You cannot impute every family argument involving an employee and his wife to the CEO of a company or the head coach of a large football program.
“Also, when the police show up and walk away after investigating the accusations, that also factors into what action, if any, an employer should take against their employee.”
Columbus attorney Larry James, who represented Zach Smith in the 2015 matter, said that he did not share details of the allegation with Meyer or other OSU officials. He said that it would have been a breach of attorney-client privilege to do so.
“Do I have any reason to believe that the university or coach would have known of that situation? The answer is no,” James said.
He said he reached out to the prosecutor and investigating officer “and there was nothing there — unequivocal.”
An Ohio State football spokesman has not responded to a request for comment. Attempts to reach Courtney Smith were unsuccessful.
Dispatch reporters Tim May and Dean Narciso contributed to this story.
COLUMBUS: Last week, Isaiah Prince was one of Ohio State’s three player representatives at the Big Ten football media gathering in Chicago.
Anyone who had suggested two years ago that Prince would be bestowed with such an honor would have received a funny look. That’s how rough the offensive tackle’s 2016 season was. But Prince has transformed himself into a crucial senior leader as the Buckeyes await the start of training camp on Friday.
“Two years ago, this is not something I would have thought of,” Prince said of his trip to Chicago. “But it’s something I’ve worked toward, so I’m not that surprised.”
Prince was a highly coveted recruit from Maryland and was thrust into the right tackle spot as a sophomore. It wasn’t always pretty, particularly in a loss at Penn State and against Michigan.
According to the website CFBFilmRoom.com, Prince had the worst pass-block efficiency rating in the country in 2016, including 15 pressures allowed in the Penn State game alone.
“That was a really low point for me — all the criticism, everybody talking bad about me,” Prince said. “I didn’t know how to handle that.”
No shock here, but social media was not kind.
“I actually had a fake fan page about me: ‘Isaiah Prince sucks.’ I was like, ‘Jeez, that’s pretty [cruel]. I’m a kid just learning.’ ”
After that season, Prince resolved to change his mindset. He would work as hard as he could, not dwell on mistakes, take comfort in the reassurance of his coaches, teammates and family, and disregard criticism from the outside world. He took major strides in 2017, earning third-team Big Ten honors and ranking in the 90th percentile of the CFBFilmRoom pass-efficiency chart.
This year, he begins the season on the Outland Trophy watch list.
“Off the field, he has always been great,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “On the field, he had some struggles early as an offensive tackle. It was just strength and development. Long-bodied players take a long time to develop. You’re talking about 6-foot-7 — a very long guy — who was weak. Fundamentally, he was a little bit of a Bambi when we got him.”
The Buckeyes experimented with moving Prince to left tackle this spring. The adjustment wasn’t seamless.
“It’s completely different,” he said of switching sides of the line. “It’s like writing with your right hand your whole life and switching to your left. Your muscle memory is different. Everything is backward.”
In the spring game, Prince was back at his familiar spot and sophomore Thayer Munford was on the left side. Prince said he will start camp at right tackle, though that’s not set in stone.
He has taken pride in mentoring Munford and in his role as elder statesman of the line.
“I’m the oldest person in the offensive-line room, which is crazy,” Prince said. “I know there are younger guys looking up to me. When we’re doing drills or in certain situations, younger guys are looking at me to see how I respond. I’ve definitely taken that more seriously this year.”
Meyer ties those strides in leadership to his improvement as a player.
“He’s a very confident player right now,” Meyer said.
The Prince who struggled mightily in 2016 might be gone, but he considers that year a blessing in disguise.
“I don’t think I would have had the success I’ve had today if I didn’t have the downfalls I had then,” he said. “Those downfalls … showed me who I am as a person.”
COLUMBUS: When the play call came in, and Dwayne Haskins Jr. was asked to make that now-famous pass to Austin Mack last year against Michigan, his teammates weren’t worried.
Sure, Haskins had been thrust into action as a freshman replacing the injured J.T. Barrett with Ohio State’s season on the line.
But the Buckeyes knew he had the arm to laser the ball between defenders. More important, they knew he had been trained to attempt it. Ohio State players believe that they are so inured to pressure that they don’t blink when asked to perform, no matter how tense the circumstances.
“Every player at Ohio State is trained for moments like that,” offensive tackle Isaiah Prince said last week at Big Ten media days in Chicago. “We don’t get nervous.”
That training starts the day players arrive on campus. Strength coach Mickey Marotti’s weight-room sessions are known for their intensity. More than one player has said that he was stunned on his first day of workouts to learn that the first 45-minute period was only the warmup, not the workout itself.
The summer conditioning is no picnic, either.
“When we were running this summertime, it’s hot, you can’t breathe,” Prince said. “You think you’re going to pass out. But in your mind, you have to be tough enough to know that you’re going to be all right.”
That training will enter a new phase on Friday when the Buckeyes open preseason camp.
“It’s going to be hard,” defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones said in Chicago. “Ohio State football — much is given, much is earned. They expect a lot of us. I don’t expect there to be an easy day of camp.”
From a physical standpoint, camp these days isn’t quite as grueling as in the years when two-a-days were the standard. Ohio State will be on the practice field only once a day. But meetings and strength training will make for long days.
“My mental state is totally changed because I’m older and have been through it,” said Jones, a fourth-year junior. “But speaking to a person who hasn’t been through it, it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be one of the hardest things you’ve done in your life.
“You’re playing football from 6 a.m. to 8 at night. Everything is football for three weeks. Everything is going to be physically and mentally draining for you, but you have to find a way to let yourself go and lock in.”
Camp is for sorting out the depth chart and perfecting plays. It also is about strengthening the culture of accountability and forcing players to become ready for the moments that Haskins faced in Ann Arbor.
“Our coaches really take pride in putting us in adverse situations when we’re not in the game, whether it’s in the weight room, on the practice field or even in the classroom,” receiver Parris Campbell said. “They try to make things so hard that you’re used to it in when you’re in the game. It’s not your first time seeing adversity.”
But there is no way to simulate the pressure of having to rally a team against its archrival in front of 107,000 hostile fans at Michigan Stadium.
“You can’t emulate that, but you can come close with a Coach Mick workout, for sure,” Campbell said. “It’s second to none. They make it so hard that when you get to a game and experience adversity, you know how to bounce back.”
That’s what Haskins and the Buckeyes did at the Big House, and why they feel confident they can navigate the challenges that await them in 2018.
“We are mentally and physically prepared for moments like that,” Prince said. “In my opinion, practices are 10 times harder than the games. To me, if you can do it in practice on a consistent basis, you should have no problem doing it in games.”
COLUMBUS: The NBA Draft has long represented a goal for Kaleb Wesson. This year, it provided a warning to the Ohio State sophomore.
“I was watching the draft and I didn’t see anybody who was 6-10, 270, just a low-post scorer,” he said Wednesday at Value City Arena. “It was actually a lot of motivation. I thought that one aspect of my game would get me there, but I had a [wrong] way of thinking that. Watching the draft really put that in concrete for me. That part of the game’s not there anymore. You have to expand your game.”
Wesson earned Big Ten all-freshman honors after averaging 10.2 points and 4.9 rebounds while quickly playing his way into the starting lineup with his low-post game. As the Buckeyes reached the NCAA Tournament, though, he found his opportunities and minutes limited as opponents used smaller lineups that kept him off the floor.
Playing a season-low seven minutes against South Dakota State and only 12 minutes against Gonzaga made Wesson resolve to expand his game. The draft then just solidified those thoughts.
This summer, he has been working on guarding who he described as the team’s two quickest guards — senior C.J. Jackson and freshman Duane Washington — and practicing his outside shot. He was 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) from 3-point range last season, with coach Chris Holtmann occasionally joking about wanting to bench him for attempting outside jumpers.
Those aren’t the only goals for improvement. Holtmann has often said that Wesson needs to become a more explosive player around the basket, and he has been working with strength and conditioning coach Quadrian Banks to address that.
“I didn’t catch any [alley-oops] last year,” Wesson said with a smile. “I see a lot of pick-and-rolls, a lot of guards are throwing ’oops to the bigs instead of just bounce passes.”
Then there’s the question about his weight. Wesson famously cut his weight drastically from his junior season at Westerville South before getting to Ohio State, and said he’s aiming to play around 250 to 255 pounds this season. His brother, junior forward Andre Wesson, has been helping with that by pointing out what he should and shouldn’t eat when they are out together.
By the end of last season, he said, he weighed in at 289 pounds.
“That kind of hurt my pride a little bit last year, not being able to guard some of the smaller guys, some of the perimeter guys,” the sophomore said. “That held me back from playing in the games.”
CHICAGO: Ohio State’s training camp begins Aug. 3, and though questions abound, so do the lofty expectations that always accompany the Buckeyes.
A lot of familiar faces will be gone, but the roster is deep and gifted.
“Very talented team,” coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday at Big Ten media days. “Very good people. Guys have worked hard.”
As in years’ past, the Buckeyes will have a symbolic passing of the torch of the team from strength coach Mickey Marotti to Meyer on the eve of camp. But Meyer won’t need Marotti’s assessment to know what he’ll get to mold.
“I’ve been at the last four workouts, I believe,” Meyer said. “I know what we’re getting. Even the young players, a lot of times you have no idea what you’re getting until you watch them go. But the incoming freshmen, we have a good feel — obviously not the contact part, but the athleticism.”
As for quarterback, Meyer reiterated that Dwayne Haskins Jr. will enter camp as the starter. But he seemed to leave the door a little more ajar for Tate Martell to take a stab at the job.
“This guy is very skilled,” Meyer said of Haskins. “The guy behind him [Martell] is very skilled. [If] we took the snap today, I made it clear that Dwayne would be the quarterback. But 30 days from now, a lot happens in 30 days.”
Meyer said he likes what he has seen from the physically gifted Haskins. But Meyer believes that leadership and toughness are even more essential for a quarterback, and he raved about Martell’s competitive spirit.
“I see a guy who refuses to lose, and that’s very appealing to a coaching staff,” Meyer said.
That’s not a slight at Haskins, who’s more reserved by nature. He said Haskins showed his mettle with his performance in leading the comeback at Michigan last season.
“He has a little different way of doing it,” Meyer said of Haskins’ leadership, “but he’s earning the respect of our players and our staff. His body has changed. He has worked really hard.”
As for what it would take for Martell to supplant Haskins during training camp, Meyer hedged.
“That’s a great question,” he said. “I’m probably not prepared to talk about that right now.”
Meyer said the Buckeyes will settle on a starter within two weeks of camp.
Several other positions, including center, one safety spot and tight end, remain up for grabs. No position is more unsettled than linebacker, which will likely feature three new starters for the opener against Oregon State. Middle linebacker Tuf Borland is making good progress in his return from an Achilles injury, Meyer said, but is unlikely to be back by then.
One linebacker on the brink of re-emerging is Dante Booker, who lost his job last year after dealing with concussions. There was speculation that he wouldn’t return after missing spring because of a shoulder injury.
But Meyer said Booker (St. Vincent-St. Mary) is “ready to roll” and expects him to be in the mix. But the competition will be stiff, as it will be almost everywhere.
“We’ve got a lot of depth, and God forbid if something was to happen and we need somebody to step up, we have people to do that,” offensive tackle Isaiah Prince said. “It’s Ohio State. We don’t have drop-offs.”
The Buckeyes must avoid the potholes like the ones they stepped into against Oklahoma and Iowa last year. Those ugly losses kept Ohio State out of the College Football Playoff despite winning the Big Ten.
“Our biggest question is consistency,” hybrid receiver Parris Campbell (St. Vincent-St. Mary) said of the offense. “There were times last year when we looked like the best team in the country. Then there were times we looked like the worst.
“Obviously, it’s not going to be the best every game, but we have to do a pretty good job of maintaining a certain standard every single game.”
COLUMBUS: Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith has been fired, the university’s athletic department announced early Monday evening.
“Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has announced the termination of wide receivers coach Zach Smith,” Ohio State said in a press release. “Coaching staff adjustments will be announced at a later date.”
Courtney Smith, Zach Smith’s ex-wife, filed a civil protection order against the coach on Friday. In May, Smith was charged with a misdemeanor count of criminal trespassing. His attorney said that the charge came after Smith dropped off their son at her apartment and that no altercation or argument precipitated it.
The Smiths divorced in 2016.
Smith, the grandson of the late Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, was the last remaining assistant coach from Meyer’s original 2012 Buckeyes coaching staff.
Courtney Smith, a resident of Powell, filed the protection order Friday in Delaware County Domestic Relations Court. An Aug. 3 hearing is scheduled to discuss the matter, according to court records.
Zach Smith’s attorney, Bradley Koffel, has argued that a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing filed in May was baseless and that Smith was just dropping off one of his children at his ex-wife’s apartment.
Koffel told the Dispatch last week that there were no threats, argument or physical altercation.
“They pick up and drop off like every other divorced family,” he said. “They said, ‘He was told by one of our officers five months ago not to drop off at her apartment.’ I said that’s not enough to override a domestic-court order on where he’s allowed to drop off or pick up his kids. It’s a court order that controls this.”
But in a court filing, Courtney Smith said her ex-husband has harassed, stalked and intimidated her.
“I am now in even more fear than ever before,” she wrote in a sworn affidavit. “Zach believes he is above the law and has no respect for the authorities. I fear for my safety and my life.”
Koffel said Courtney Smith is using the media and an order typically used for battered women to “regulate the pickup and drop off of her kids.”
Powell Police Chief Gary Vest said that there was never any evidence of physical violence or threats, as would be required for criminal charges.
“There are no elements that fit a crime,” he said, noting that a protection order often is based on perception and fear.
“Sometimes in a domestic situation, I may not trust this person. I don’t want them around,” he said.
The order requires Smith to stay at least 500 feet away from his ex-wife for the next five years.
“The courts allow some distance for them to cool down a little. It’s a good system to let people catch their breath,” Vest said.
Vest said the order’s length is likely connected to the age (8 and 6) of the couple’s children. He recommends that custody exchanges take place at police stations “to reduce the stress on the kids.”
OSU hired Smith in 2012. His current salary is $340,000. He previously had worked at Florida, (2005-09), Marshall (2010) and Temple (2011).
OSU officials, calling it a personnel issue, said they would not comment.
COLUMBUS: Chris Holtmann’s vision is a little skewed this week, the victim of a nasty eye infection the Ohio State men’s basketball coach contracted from who knows where.
My guess? He got it trying to peer into the future, specifically, into next season, when the Buckeyes could be a bit of a hot mess. Or maybe not? We all thought they’d trip over themselves last season, too, and they ended up finishing second in the Big Ten. Is more magic in the making?
More on that in a minute. First, the immediate future: Ohio State will travel to Spain next month for 10 extra days of practice and culture immersion. The trip is good work by Holtmann, who continues to push all the right buttons in getting the Buckeyes back to a place of national prominence.
In addition to traveling to Spain, which allows an especially young team — nine players are in their first or second year in the program — to develop chemistry in a concentrated environment, Ohio State just received a commitment from five-star point guard DJ Carton, who chose the Buckeyes over Indiana and Michigan.
Carton, rated the No. 2 point guard in the nation by 247Sports, is the second top-30 prospect to pledge to Ohio State in the past three months. Alonzo Gaffney, at the time a five-star small forward, committed in April.
Making a splash by signing two top recruits does not guarantee future recruiting success, but Holtmann believes programs can gain recruiting momentum. If true, Ohio State is trending up, and Holtmann sees no reason why the uptick can’t become permanent, based on how hard his assistants work on the recruiting trail.
“We have some dogs when it comes to recruiting,” he said, being complimentary toward their relentlessness.
But what of next season?
What does 2018-19 look like with the Buckeyes needing to replace leading scorer and rebounder Keita Bates-Diop (19.8 points, 8.7 rebounds), high-energy forward Jae’Sean Tate, shooting guard Kam Williams and steadying presence Andrew Dakich?
Holtmann, candid as ever, agreed it is fair to wonder how well the Buckeyes will perform during his second year in charge.
“We want to go in with optimism and don’t put any limitations on what we can be, but at the same time we recognize we have challenges we have to face,” he said.
For instance, will these Buckeyes get along as well as the close-knit group of last season? Holtmann said that a coach can build a sense of fraternity, but friendships among players must happen organically.
To that end, he has instituted “Beyond Basketball,” a hoops version of the “Real Life Wednesdays” that Urban Meyer instituted for football. Holtmann considered implementing a similar “life experience” program two years ago during his final season at Butler, and was close to contacting Meyer for advice on how to create it, but the Ohio State job opened and he was able to go straight to the source.
To be sure, much of last season’s success was based on the simple reality that the Buckeyes liked each other, which is not always the case. Holtmann has had teams that did not mesh, and the result of such dysfunctional rosters is a lack of improvement from the beginning of the season to the end.
Senior point guard C.J. Jackson said that Holtmann has nurtured a family atmosphere by focusing on who a player is as much as on how he plays.
“Coach Holt has done a really good job of getting the right guys in here,” Jackson said.
It begins with people. And Holtmann has a healthy eye for recruiting good ones.
COLUMBUS: A complaint by an Ohio State student in the 1990s regarding alleged misconduct by Dr. Richard Strauss describes inappropriate touching and personal questions by the physician and ultimately led to a response by the director of the university’s student health services.
Former student Steve Snyder-Hill said he was seen by Strauss, who is now at the center of a sexual misconduct investigation, after noticing a lump on his chest when he was attending Ohio State. During the exam, Strauss examined Snyder-Hill’s genitals even before examining his chest, and pushed up against him with an erection, Snyder-Hill said.
The doctor’s actions led Snyder-Hill to complain to administrators, and he recently requested related documentation from the university.
The documented complaint, which Snyder-Hill made to a university employee by phone on Jan. 6, 1995, details the former student’s account of how Strauss conducted both genital and anal exams during the appointment.
Strauss asked Snyder-Hill questions “about personal desires,” according to the university’s complaint notes, which Snyder-Hill shared Thursday with the Dispatch.
Snyder-Hill was asked by Strauss if he was gay, the complaint notes state. Snyder-Hill, now an LGBT activist, said he was coping with his sexuality at the time and had not yet come out as gay.
At the time, Snyder-Hill “felt like if he had given a signal [Strauss] would have acted on it,” the complaint notes said.
Snyder-Hill said he was later contacted over the phone by Ted W. Grace, then-director of Ohio State’s student health services, who conveyed that Strauss denied having an erection and said he was just doing his job during the examination.
A follow-up letter from Grace, also obtained by Snyder-Hill and shared with the Dispatch, stated there had been no previous complaints against Strauss.
“I want to assure you that we had never received a complaint about Dr. Strauss before, although we have had several positive comments … any future complaints would include consideration of all prior complaints of a similar nature,” Grace wrote in the letter dated January 26, 1995.
The letter also mentioned that suggestions from Snyder-Hill about improvements to student health services “have been quite helpful” and resulted in a new form that asked patients whether they wanted a chaperone during exams and allowed them to opt out of potential genital examinations or touching in certain areas.
Snyder-Hill said he hadn’t been following Ohio State’s investigation until last week, when he recognized Strauss’ photograph in news reports.
“I’ve gone through for the last 30 years thinking I wasn’t valid, that they took that away from me. They basically said it didn’t happen, to all of a sudden, I know that it did, to finding out this doctor killed himself,” Snyder-Hill said. “I’ll never have closure. I can never look that guy in the eyes again and face my accuser. OSU stole that opportunity from me.”
Grace, now director for student health services at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., declined to comment through a university spokeswoman. A university news release said Grace was at Ohio State until at least 2008, and served as the senior director of disaster preparedness and health safety at Ohio State after leading its student health services.
Since Ohio State first announced the investigation into Strauss in April, university officials have not publicly said whether complaints were formally filed against him during his employment there. Strauss’ employment documents, released by the university in June, show he was employed at Ohio State from 1978 to 1998 but included no mention of Snyder-Hill’s complaint, disciplinary action or internal investigations into the doctor.
The Dispatch has requested Snyder-Hill’s complaint, but Ohio State has not provided it, citing student and patient privacy laws. Ohio State has said it “remains actively committed to uncovering what may have happened and what university leaders at the time may have known” about Strauss.
That’s not enough for Snyder-Hill.
“I don’t think the statement’s fair anymore. I’ve given them enough proof that it’s not fair to say ‘We didn’t know’ and ‘There may have been [abuse].’ I think we need to say that there were [cases of abuse], and we knew,” Snyder-Hill said.
Jack Torry and Jessica Wehrman of the Dispatch Washington Bureau contributed to this story.
Five former Ohio State University wrestlers have filed class-action lawsuits in federal court, alleging the university knew about sexual abuse by physician Richard Strauss, but failed to stop his misconduct.
The first suit, filed Monday in federal district court in Columbus by four former wrestlers, accuses Ohio State of Title IX and civil-rights violations when it failed to prevent repeated sexual assaults, abuse and molestation by Strauss. The second, filed Tuesday by a single former wrestler, accuses Ohio State of Title IX violations, sexual harassment, invasion of privacy, and various counts of negligence.
The four plaintiffs in the first case, listed only as “John Does,” seek punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney fees and other relief as the court deems proper. The suit did not state a specific amount the plaintiffs were seeking. The suit claims a student complained about Strauss as early as 1978.
The lawsuit alleges that despite being repeatedly informed of Dr. Strauss’ “sexual assault, abuse, battery, molestation, and/or harassment, OSU failed to take appropriate action (or, in fact, any action whatsoever) to stop or prevent Dr. Strauss from continuing his rampant sexual misconduct.”
Ohio State eventually held a hearing on Dr. Strauss around the spring of 1997, the lawsuit said, citing an April news report by the Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper. Strauss “quietly retired” after that, the suit said.
Each of the former wrestlers in the case was sexually assaulted by Strauss in some way, the lawsuit said. Two plaintiffs were abused when they were examined by Strauss in the 1990s. Another was sexually assaulted during “multiple physical examinations and in the locker room of Larkins Hall,” the suit said. A fourth was sexually assaulted during approximately 50 examinations by Strauss in the late 1980s and 1990s, the suit said.
The plaintiff in the second suit, also referred to as “John Doe,” wrestled at Ohio State from 1982 to 1984. He had approximately 20 appointments with Strauss, and was subjected to sexual harassment and inappropriate touching during each visit, the lawsuit said.
The second lawsuit laid out claims similar to the first lawsuit about Strauss’ misconduct and Ohio State’s lack of action. It also seeks unspecified damages and attorney’s fees. It lists Ohio State as the defendant, as well as “Does 1 through 100,” who the lawsuit said are currently undetermined but are each “responsible in some manner for one or more of the events and happenings” in the case.
PORT CLINTON, Ohio: Summer and vacation seem to fly by, and it’s no different for Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer.
“Now with a grandson … there’s not many seconds that aren’t used, because I know what’s coming down the road,” Meyer said, referring to the Big Ten media days next week and the start of preseason camp soon after. “When you were a younger coach, people in June would say ‘You ready to go?’ And I’d say “Yeah, can’t wait for it to start.’
“It’s changed. Now I can’t wait for vacation, and wait to spend time with your loved ones, because we all know what’s going to happen next week.”
What has struck him is he is on the brink of doing something he’s never done before, coach for the seventh consecutive season at the same place.
“It has,” said Meyer, 54, who in his previous six seasons put together a 73-8 record with two Big Ten title and one national title.
“But I’ve also learned to not look back, look forward, just kind of live in the moment.
“One of the big sayings we have this year with our team is ‘Just win the moment.’ ”
Meyer was at the Catawba Island Club on a muggy July on Monday, going back in time for what he considers a noble cause: support of Bowling Green football.
It was Bowling Green that made him a head coach for the first time in 2001, plucking him from a five-year stint as an assistant at Notre Dame.
The chance turned out to be his career springboard. He won big immediately before moving on to Utah in 2003, to Florida in 2005 and, after a one-year hiatus in 2011, to Ohio State, continuing to win big at all three schools.
So when BG invited him to take part in the 10th version of its summer golf outing with former head coaches Don Nehlen, Gary Blackney and Dave Clawson, he jumped at it. That’s even though it meant flying back immediately from the American Century Championship golf tournament he took part in over the weekend at Lake Tahoe.
“I would do anything for Bowling Green,” Meyer said.
“We took a place that was struggling a little bit, in a town that really thrives when that football program is going. … It just enlivens that whole town. I had nothing but great experiences. …
“We had a great turnaround [going from 2-9 the year before to 8-3 in 2001], and to this day probably the best group of seniors I’ve ever had. They expected nothing and appreciated everything.
‘‘zthat’s rare nowadays, and it was awesome.”
Blackney admired it from afar. He had left an assistant’s job at Ohio State to become BG head coach in 1991, and, like Meyer, he had instant success, winning the Mid-American Conference championship in 1991 and ’92. But he said Monday he stayed too long, stepping down after the 2000 season and moving to Maryland as an assistant.
“One of the reasons I left is I thought the team needed a different voice, a different approach,” Blackney said.
He also cautioned Meyer not to overstay, and Meyer, who as a graduate assistant at OSU in 1986 and ’87 got to know then-defensive coordinator Blackney well, took his advice.
“I still call him ‘coach Blackney,’ that’s how much respect I have for him … He said [Bowling Green] is like a magnet, the people, the town, they entrap you, because they are such good people,” Meyer said. “But the hard thing is to sustain.
‘‘Any Mid-American school is hard to sustain” because of the parity in the league.
So he made his mark and moved on.
“You could see there were stars on the horizon for him,” Blackney said.
Mike Kudla, an All-Big Ten defensive end and Ohio State’s defensive most valuable player in 2005, has died at age 34, according to a news release from his former school district.
Highland Local Schools posted on Twitter on Monday that Kudla died unexpectedly Sunday.
Kudla graduated from Highland High School in Medina in 2002. Ohio State won the national championship his freshman season as a Buckeye and two Big Ten titles during his career. In his college finale, he had three sacks in Ohio State’s Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame.
He signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent, but injuries ended his career prematurely. Kudla returned to Ohio State and in 2012 was named managing director of development for the Fisher School of Business.
He later became owner of Core Plex, which builds medical facilities. Kudla also worked with the NFL on protocols for chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
COLUMBUS: When things went south a couple of times for the Ohio State football team last season, Urban Meyer turned up the burners. And on his stove, that meant raising the heat on himself and his coaching staff before doing the same to the players.
“I just didn’t feel like we competed. I didn’t feel like our staff competed,” Meyer said in February at the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association convention. “And most importantly, as the head coach, as you self-evaluate, I did not compete. … And I was so [upset] with myself for letting it get to this point.”
In the midst of the 2017 season, however, Meyer said the turnaround had to be immediate.
“ ‘We have to get much better. I have to get my staff much better. How do we do this?’ ” Meyer recalled his thoughts at the time. “I typed in the word ‘competitor.’ ”
Though commonly defined as someone who takes part in an athletic contest, Meyer said his definition of competitor “the way I was raised is, you have to win. You’ll hear it around our program all the time, ‘As long as they keep score, don’t lose.’
“Now, every once in a while, you’re going to lose, but don’t accept it. You work your rear off to not let that happen again.”
In his line of work, Meyer seeks to surround himself with “fierce” competitors — both among the players and coaches. He describes such people this way: “He cares deeply. He’s extremely intense. He’s passionate. He presses every advantage to win. He never gives up. He has a focused, violent approach.”
So when Meyer sought a recharge after regular-season losses to Oklahoma and Iowa, he turned the focus first on himself and his staff. Receivers coach Zach Smith remembered.
“Anytime you get challenged, especially the coaches we have here, you want to … silence that,” Smith said. “The coaches we have here, they’re elite. Guys like [defensive coordinator] Greg Schiano and [offensive coordinator] Ryan Day — those guys are used to being the best of the best, and their units being the best of the best, and if it’s ever challenged at all, it’s like, ‘No, no, no, not my group. This is the expectation, and we’re going to get it there.’ ”
Everyone on the OSU staff is considered a self-starter, but Smith acknowledged that every one of them benefit from reflection.
“You always need that step back occasionally where you ask yourself, ‘Are we doing the best things to get the most out of our players? Is there a better way to do it?’ ” he said. “And the best thing coach Meyer does as a head coach is he challenges us and inspires innovation. He’s the best in the country at doing that.”
Day found out that accountability comes with the territory when he moved from the San Francisco 49ers in the winter of 2017 to become the OSU quarterbacks coach.
“Just like the players have to show up ready to go every day, the coaches better show up ready to go every day,” Day said. “As good as he is a coach for the players, [Meyer is] as good, if not better, a coach for the coaches.
“Every morning in the staff meetings he’s challenging us. It’s not always comfortable, but at the end of the day he’s working as hard, if not harder, than all of us.”
Day said such an approach makes it easy to follow Meyer’s path, because he is setting the pace. Meyer is 73-8 through his first six seasons with the Buckeyes.
“He’s the leader of this thing,” he said. “When you leave here, you leave as a better coach, because he is constantly challenging you, making you think, trying to stir it up a little bit.”
COLUMBUS: Gene Smith is not in favor of legalized betting on college sports.
But like it or not, the Ohio State athletic director knows that it’s coming. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May that the ban on sports gambling outside of Nevada was unconstitutional.
So college administrators are bracing for its arrival and trying to safeguard against potential abuses that might arise from it.
One proposal from a recent panel of athletic directors was to establish a weekly injury report for football.
CBSsports.com reported that Smith told a National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics panel last week in Washington that the Big Ten has asked the NCAA to consider such an injury reporting system.
“We talked about the injury reports, and obviously that’s something we should think about making more transparent and having more consistency,” Smith said.
The perceived availability of potentially injured players can affect the betting line. If that has to be declared, that can minimize a potential vulnerability that gamblers could exploit.
As of now, how much, if any, is revealed about a team’s injury situation is controlled by the coach. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer is generally open about whether a particular player is available for the next game, though less so about a player’s projected return from a longer-term injury.
Other coaches reveal as little as possible. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh didn’t even divulge a depth chart last year, let alone injuries.
Smith said he doesn’t foresee an injury report in college being as detailed as the NFL’s.
He said that privacy concerns related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act must be taken into account in any proposal that would involve the release of a player’s injury status.
Smith said there isn’t a timetable for trying to get a proposal passed. He added that it’s possible that other conferences or athletic directors are also formulating separate plans on the topic.
It’s all part of navigating a new landscape that the Supreme Court ruling has created. Smith mentioned prop gambling — betting on a small part of a game instead of the overall outcome — as a particular worry. He said he envisioned a time when apps can issue a prop bet on, say, whether a kickoff goes out of bounds, or in basketball, if a player misses a free throw.
“You can almost have a prop bet on anything,” Smith said.
Gambling scandals have been a part of college sports for generations. But legal gambling creates potential issues that probably can’t even be foreseen yet.
“It concerns me,” Smith said. “It concerns me from the point of view of the athlete — making sure we protect people. My biggest concern is educating, educating, educating, and then putting in firewalls to protect them.”
He said the most vulnerable players are young players who may be immature and haven’t fully bought into the team’s culture.
“We know gambling exists now,” Smith said. “We’re not naive. But as it becomes more transparent and prevalent, our kids are going to be more susceptible to people trying to influence them to do things. How do we protect them from making a bad decision?”
Smith isn’t a sky-is-falling doomsayer. He believes the gambling issue can be managed.
“In my view, we’ll be fine and we shouldn’t overreact,” Smith said. “I’m not supportive of [legalized college sports betting], but we are where we are and we have to deal with it.”