Urban Meyer has apologized to Courtney Smith, two days after not acknowledging her directly in a news conference at Ohio State announcing that he was suspended three games for mishandling allegations of domestic abuse against former assistant Zach Smith.
Meyer released a two-paragraph apology on his Twitter feed and through Ohio State's communications department Friday evening to say sorry to all women, men and families affected by relationship violence. More specifically, he apologized directly to Courtney Smith, Zach Smith's ex-wife, who publicly claimed earlier this month that Meyer failed to act when she sought help for an allegedly abusive relationship.
"Let me say here and now what I should have said on Wednesday," Meyer wrote. "I sincerely apologize to Courtney Smith and her children for what they have gone through."
Ohio State suspended Meyer through Sept. 2 and for the first three games of the football season after university leaders determined he failed to uphold the school's standards and misrepresented what he knew about allegations made against Zach Smith in the media.
Meyer, athletic director Gene Smith and university president Michael Drake fielded 20 minutes of questions from reporters Wednesday night at the conclusion of a nearly 12-hour deliberation that ended with suspensions for Meyer and Gene Smith. None of those three men mentioned Courtney Smith by name during their opening remarks or when fielding questions about the issue. Meyer and Gene Smith both apologized to "Buckeye Nation" and accepted responsibility for acting improperly.
When asked directly what message he had for Courtney Smith on Wednesday, Meyer said he only had a message for everyone involved: "I'm sorry we're in this situation."
Meyer said Friday that his words and demeanor at that news conference "did not show how seriously I take relationship violence." The university's findings after a two-week investigation determined that Meyer did have a "sincere commitment" to treating women with respect, but his comments at the news conference drew criticism from students, faculty and many outside of the university in the hours and days that followed.
"I sincerely apologize," Meyer wrote. "I was taught at a very young age that if I ever hit a woman, I would be kicked out of the house and never welcomed back. I have the same rule in my house and in the Football Program at Ohio State. Over the years, we have worked hard to educate and remind our coaches and players of the seriousness of relationship violence. I understand my lack of more action in this situation has raised concerns about this commitment."
Meyer admitted he knew that police were investigating domestic assault allegations made against Zach Smith in 2015. He also knew about other accusations made in 2009 when Smith and Meyer worked together in Florida.
A 23-page report issued late Wednesday night after the news conference outlined a long list of Zach Smith's inappropriate actions during his time as a coach at Ohio State. According to the report, Smith's transgressions include: going to a strip club while on a recruiting trip, sending lewd photos at a team event at the White House, having an affair with a member of the football staff and being admitted to an addiction-treatment facility after Meyer noticed problems with his job performance.
Meyer said Wednesday that his loyalty to Earle Bruce -- Zach Smith's grandfather and Meyer's coaching mentor -- clouded his judgment in giving Zach Smith the benefit of the doubt in all of those situations.
Courtney Smith has not responded to questions about how she viewed Meyer's comments.
Though the school said in its outline of findings that Meyer did not attempt to cover up any of Zach Smith's actions, the findings call into question Meyer's behavior after a story by college football reporter Brett McMurphy detailed allegations against Zach Smith made by Courtney Smith that included a series of text messages.
Associate athletic director Brian Voltolini and Meyer "discussed at that time whether the media could get access to Coach Meyer's phone, and specifically how to adjust the settings on Meyer's phone so that text messages older than one year would be deleted," the summary of findings detailed. When Meyer turned his phone over to the investigative team, it had no text messages that were older than one year.
While that is not an admission of guilt, the investigators found it "nonetheless concerning that his first reaction to a negative media piece exposing his knowledge of the 2015-16 law enforcement investigation was to worry about the media getting access to info and discussing how to delete messages older than one year."
Information from ESPN's Heather Dinich was used in this report.