Meyer Releases Statement Concerning Investigation

(ESPN Sports) -- Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer issued a statement on Friday saying that he "failed" when he denied knowing about domestic violence allegations against one of his former assistant coaches. Meyer said last week that he knew nothing about a 2015 complaint or any other domestic issues that Zach Smith had during the six years Meyer and Smith worked together at Ohio State.

Zach Smith's ex-wife said this week that she had shared texts with Meyer's wife detailing years of domestic violence. Courtney Smith said she was not sure if Urban Meyer knew about the allegations.

"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," Meyer said in a statement posted on Twitter. "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."

Meyer admitted that he did not handle the situation correctly during Big Ten media days, saying that his job is to be "clear, compassionate and, most of all, completely accurate."

"Unfortunately, at Big Ten Media days on July 24, I failed on many of these fronts," he said in his statement. "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."

At the same time that Meyer was issuing his statement, Zach Smith was being interviewed by ESPN. He said that he was on a recruiting trip in October 2015 when he was called back to campus by athletic director Gene Smith. Zach Smith heard about allegations of domestic abuse and said that he went to the Powell, Ohio, police department. After speaking to the police, Zach Smith went to practice and briefed Meyer on the situation.

"I explained both sides of the story," Smith said during the interview, which will air on SportsCenter Friday (ESPN, 6 p.m.). "I volunteered to do that. I didn't ever hit her. He said: 'If you hit her, you are fired immediately.' I looked at him and said: 'If I hit her, I wouldn't come in here, I know how you feel about that. If I hit her, I wouldn't even come to work. I would know it's over.'"

Meyer did fire Smith on July 23, the same day that a pattern of domestic abuse allegations made by Smith's ex-wife came to light in a report published by college football reporter Brett McMurphy. Meyer said the next day that he knew about an incident between the Smiths that occurred in 2009 in Florida, but he adamantly denied any knowledge of other domestic disputes between the couple.

Meyer was placed on administrative leave by Ohio State on Wednesday while an investigation by an independent group formed by the University takes place.

During his interview with ESPN, Zach Smith was read Meyer's statement. "It's as heartfelt, honest and as true a statement as I've ever heard," he said. "That's who he is right there."

Smith was asked why he thought Meyer didn't admit he knew about the 2015 incident during media day.

"I don't know what he was thinking," Smith said. "Not really. He knows everything that has gone on in my marriage that he needed to know."

Smith explained why he didn't share all the issues he had in his marriage with Meyer.

"I believe it's a private matter between two people in a marriage, unless something happened that's illegal," he said.

While saying that "I've never hit my wife", Smith did say that he did bare responsibility for the demise of the marriage.

"Absolutely, I did something wrong every time," he told ESPN. "I pushed her buttons a lot. I knew how to get her going. Like I said, it was a toxic relationship. Both of us did several wrong things. All I'm trying to put out is there was never an illegal act or violence."

Smith at first said he didn't agree with being dismissed by Meyer, but then he changed his mind. "It wasn't going to be fair for the players to go through this media circus," he said.

Smith does not think Meyer should be fired for misleading the public. "If he loses his job that would be flat out wrong, and that's the guy who fired me," he said.

Smith said he and Meyer have not been in contact. "No, I haven't talked to him since I got released," he told ESPN.

Meyer indicated that he won't be addressing the situation again until there is a resolution.

"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," he said in his statement. "At the appropriate time, I will also address the questions and speculation in a public forum. But for now, out of respect for the ongoing inquiry, I will refrain at this time."

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