Regardless of what you think of Ohio State suspending Urban Meyer for three games, it made one smart public relations move on Wednesday night.
That astute move wasn’t the press conference itself. It was the timing of it.
Starting the press conference announcing Meyer’s suspension and a 2 ½ week suspension for athletic director Gene Smith just before releasing a 23-page report by the independent committee which investigated how Meyer and Smith handled allegations of domestic violence against former OSU receivers coach Zach Smith was pretty slick.
The report was interesting reading, to put it mildly.
Among the revelations contained in it:
• Meyer sometimes has “significant memory issues” and “has periodically taken medicine that can negatively impair his memory, concentration and focus.”
• Meyer’s cell phone was set to keep text messages for only one year and it is not known if it was set that way before he was placed on administrative leave. He discussed changing his cell phone settings with Ohio State staffer Brian Voltolini after stories about his handling of the domestic abuse allegations came out.
• Zach Smith ran up a bill of several hundred dollars when he and another Ohio State coach and one or more high school coaches went to a strip club in Florida in 2014.
• Zach Smith was admitted to a drug treatment facility for addiction to a stimulant prescription drug used to treat ADHD in 2016.
• It described “a pattern of troubling behavior” by Zach Smith, including “promiscuous and embarrassing sexual behavior, drug abuse, truancy, dishonesty, financial irresponsibility, a possible NCAA violation, and a lengthy police investigation into allegations of criminal domestic violence and cyber crimes.”
• Meyer did not tell Gene Smith about Zach Smith being arrested, but never charged, with domestic violence against his then-wife Courtney Smith in Florida in 2009 when he hired him at Ohio State.
• Shelley Meyer texted her husband, Urban, on July 23, the night Zach Smith was fired, to say, “I am worried about Zach’s response. He drinks a lot and I am just not sure how stable he will be. Afraid he will do something dangerous.”
Urban Meyer did not respond to the text. Shelley Meyer also received texts and phone calls from Courtney Smith alleging domestic abuse in 2015. Both Urban and Shelley Meyer deny discussing those messages.
• The report also found credible information that Smith engaged in a sexual relationship with a secretary on the football staff, took sexually explicit photos of himself at the White House and at Ohio State and had sex toys delivered to him at OSU.
• In 2015 and 2016 while going through divorce proceedings, Zach Smith repeatedly was late for practices and workouts and failed to appear at recruiting visits at high schools and lied about not making those trips. Meyer warned him he could be fired and Gene Smith suggested to Meyer that he consider replacing him.
• Urban and Shelly Meyer doubted Courtney Smith’s 2009 claim of domestic violence by Zach Smith.
• Meyer was determined not to disclose Zach Smith’s personal issues at the Big Ten media days and lied to reporters in his denial of knowledge of a 2015 domestic violence allegation against Smith.
• Meyer told investigators the primary reason he fired Smith was that he failed to notify him of Courtney Smith’s filing for a court order of protection and a criminal trespass complaint she made. Meyer said these violated the football program’s core value of honesty.
• In a message to the football staff on the night of July 23 when he fired Zach Smith, Meyer said his firing was for “core value violation and cumulative issues.” He also texted “Win the Moment – most important thing is team and players at this time. Zero conversation about Zach’s past issues. We need to help him as he moves forward. Team and players!!”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau