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Urban Meyer Admits Fault As He Resumes Coaching Duties

Jay LaPrete

Head football coach Urban Meyer rejoins Ohio State’s football team on Monday after serving a suspension related to his handling of domestic abuse allegations against an assistant coach.

In a Twitter post on Monday morning, Meyer attempted again to apologize for his treatment of former receivers coach and head recruiter Zach Smith.

“With respect to Zach Smith and the events that led to his termination, it’s clear that I could have done a better job,” Meyer wrote. “I should have done a better job, and I’ll always regret that I didn’t.”

Smith’s ex-wife Courtney Smith accused the former coach of physically abusing her, and police in Powell gathered evidence for felony domestic violence charges. The county prosecutor never brought charges against Zach Smith.

According to a report produced by an independent working group established by the university board, Meyer and Athletic Director Gene Smith waited to intervene because charges weren’t filed. But the group determined their contracts obligated the two to do more.

Over the weekend, Meyer gave his first in-person interview to ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi.

"I erred and I made a decision to do the best I can to help stabilize that situation," Meyer said. "And one of the things, I look back now, I probably should have fired him.”

The investigators chided Meyer for claiming not to have known about the domestic incident at Big Ten Media Days in July. But they accepted his explanation that he was speaking about an arrest, which did not happen, rather than more broadly about Smith's conduct, as his comments were widely interpreted.

Courtney Smith has said Meyer chose to support the abuser, and when Rinaldi pressed him on that assertion, Meyer said, “That breaks my heart. I didn’t hear that until just now.  That’s–I apologize that she believes that, that’s never been my intent. My intent was to help all involved.”

Meyer received stiff criticism for his comments at the press conference announcing his subsequent suspension. Rather than taking an opportunity to apologize to Courtney Smith, Meyer said, “Well, my message for everyone involved in this, I’m sorry that we’re in this situation, and I’m just sorry we’re in this situation."

Meyer later took to Twitter to backtrack that comment. "My words and demeanor on Wednesday did not show how seriously I take relationship violence," Meyer said on August 24. "I sincerely apologize.”

In his most recent Twitter post, Meyer tried another approach, writing, “I will always be sorry for what Courtney Smith and her family have gone through.”

Meyer also attempted to address the broader concern of what his actions suggest about his understanding of domestic violence.

“I sincerely regret my misstatement at Media Days, and my failure to adequately manage a troubled employee," he wrote. "It caused people to question my commitment to our core value of Treating Women with Respect. And it caused them to question my honesty. For that I’m truly sorry.”

Meyer resumes coaching duties Monday after having to sit out the first three games of the season. He has been allowed to coach the team during practices.

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Nick Evans