Even though he’s suspended until Sept. 3 and can’t coach in a game until Sept. 22, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was allowed to meet with his team last week.
After a two-week investigation, Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith were suspended for the way they handled Zach Smith, a recently fired assistant coach who was accused of domestic violence and other misconduct. But on Thursday, a day after the suspension was announced, Meyer and Gene Smith both spoke with the team, according to The Lantern and Associated Press. Gene Smith is also facing a suspension, but it begins Aug. 31 and goes through Sept. 16.
An Ohio State spokesperson told The Lantern that the meeting was allowed so players and staff could “hear from [Meyer] and cover interim leadership during the suspension period including the three games he will not attend.” The meeting lasted about 45 minutes.
The conditions of Urban Meyer’s suspension
Susan Basso, Ohio State’s senior vice president for human resources, detailed the conditions of Meyer’s suspension in an email sent to the coach. The email, obtained via open records requests by The Lantern and AP, laid out what Meyer can and cannot do until Sept. 3.
Meyer will not be allowed to attend any practices, meetings, official events or appear in any official capacity at any Ohio State football events while on his suspension, according to an email to Meyer sent by Susan Basso, senior vice president of the office of human resources. The email also said he will not be allowed to communicate with staff, student-athletes, recruits or others, or “otherwise conduct any business related to your role for this time period.”
It went on to say he will be allowed to resume his head coaching duties on Sept. 3, but that he cannot perform any of those duties for a 24-hour period around the game days of Sept. 1, 8 and 15, and he cannot appear at any pregame activities or the game itself.
Another email from Basso to Meyer granted him the opportunity to speak with his team. The conditions of his suspension were not communicated to Meyer until Sunday, three days after he met with the team.
Meyer received written details of the suspension on Sunday, four days after the discipline was announced publicly. At 5:53 p.m. Monday, Meyer was sent an email from Basso confirming that the Thursday meeting — “in order to apologize to the team” — had been authorized.
Meyer has been on leave since Aug. 1
Meyer was first placed on administrative leave on Aug. 1, hours after Brett McMurphy reported on the domestic abuse allegations against Zach Smith. McMurphy spoke to Zach Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney, and posted text messages that pointed to knowledge of Zach Smith’s alleged misdeeds inside the Ohio State football program.
At Big Ten Media Days, Meyer shot down having any knowledge of a 2015 allegation against. Meyer later admitted he was aware but said he always followed proper reporting policies. The investigation could not conclude that Meyer “deliberately lied” at Big Ten Media Days.
When asked if he was deserving of the punishment he received, Meyer said he “trusts and supports” the decision made by Ohio State president Michael V. Drake.
Meyer can return to practice on Sept. 3, but cannot coach the team in a game until Week 4 against Tulane.
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