Urban Meyer might still pace the Ohio State sidelines, after all.
Ohio State trustees set a private meeting for Wednesday to talk about the future of the football coach as the university seeks to quickly move past a scandal that has consumed the football program for nearly a month. It is looking more likely that the board will recommend suspension for Meyer when presenting to university president Michael V. Drake, sources close to the investigation told the Columbus Dispatch.
It’s also possible the board could make a “time served” recommendation, meaning Meyer would have fulfilled his punishment in the two-plus weeks he’s been on administrative leave.
Meyer has been the subject of an investigation into the handling of domestic-abuse allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith.
The university said fact finders briefed the board Monday. The panel will convene in a public session Wednesday morning before going behind closed doors to discuss the next steps. Drake will have the final say on whether Meyer keeps his job or faces other consequences.
“[Monday’s] briefing is to ensure that board members are adequately prepared to discuss this matter at Wednesday’s meeting,” Ohio State spokeswoman Emily Caldwell said Monday in an email.
No timetable was given for final resolution of the matter, which has overshadowed the team’s preparation for the 2018 season that begins at home Sept. 1.
The trustees hired an outside law firm for $500,000 to do the investigation, which took two weeks.
The investigation centers on what Meyer knew and did about allegations of abuse against Smith, who was fired July 23 after his wife sought a protective order. Smith hasn’t been charged or convicted of abuse, but his ex-wife Courtney Smith alleged her husband shoved her against a wall and put his hands around her neck in 2015.
Meyer has said he handled the accusations properly when he found out about them, but acknowledged he lied to reporters at first when he said he hadn’t heard of the incident. Ohio State put Meyer under investigation after Courtney Smith went public, giving a reporter text messages and pictures she traded with Meyer’s wife, Shelley Meyer, in 2015.
Drake, the Ohio State president, is rarely in the public spotlight, unlike his predecessor, Gordon Gee, who prided himself on his reputation as a fast-talking, ubiquitous and sports-loving Ohio State fanatic.
Drake surprised Ohio State fans in 2014 when he fired the school’s marching band director after an investigation uncovered band traditions and rituals that were racy, raunchy or suggestive.
The band director, Jonathan Waters, said he had been trying to change many of the activities before he was terminated, but Drake stood his ground despite intense criticism over the firing. He and the university insisted that Waters controlled the band at the time of the probe and was answerable for all of its practices, even those that evolved out of old traditions.
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