Former Utah coach Urban Meyer put on leave at Ohio State amid investigation

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Editor's note: This article contains a graphic image from a Facebook post that some readers may find disturbing. SALT LAKE CITY — Urban Meyer’s tenure at Ohio State was put on shaky ground Wednesday.

The former University of Utah football coach was placed on paid administrative leave while Ohio State investigates claims that his wife knew about allegations of domestic violence against a former assistant years before he was fired last week.

Courtney Smith, whose ex-husband Zach was fired by the Buckeyes last week, provided text messages to former ESPN college football reporter Brett McMurphy that detail conversations between Urban Meyer’s wife Shelley and Smith that allegedly show knowledge of the alleged domestic violence situation as early as 2015.

Meyer said during Big Ten media days that he had no knowledge of two incidents in 2015 brought against his former wide receivers coach that were investigated by the Powell (Ohio) Police Department.

Meyer accepted the leave in a prepared statement from the university, saying, “(Ohio State athletic director) Gene (Smith) and I agree that being on leave during this inquiry will facilitate its completion,” he said. “This allows the team to conduct training camp with minimal distraction. I eagerly look forward to the resolution of this matter.”

Meyer coached at Utah during the 2003 and 2004 seasons, leading the Utes to a 22-2 record and a 35-7 win over Pitt in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl.

The one-time rising star in college football coaching, Meyer has had stops at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida is 73-8 at Ohio State, including a national title in 2014 and two Big Ten championships. Shelley Meyer is a registered nurse and an employee of Ohio State University as an instructor.

Zach Smith has a hearing scheduled for Friday on allegations from his ex-wife that he drove to her apartment after she told him to meet elsewhere to drop off their son, according to Smith’s attorney. He also was accused of aggravated battery on his then-pregnant wife in 2009 while working as a graduate assistant under Meyer at Florida. That charge was dropped for insufficient evidence, according to the Associated Press.

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