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Former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith said Friday on a Columbus radio station that he found out he was being investigated for domestic abuse by the Powell, Ohio, Police Department when he received a call from Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith.
Smith’s ex-wife Courtney accused him of abuse in October of 2015. He was not charged regarding the allegation. Zach Smith said he got a call from Gene Smith when he was out recruiting on Ohio State’s bye week.
“I was out recruiting on a bye week, I was on a practice field and I found out about the abuse because Gene Smith called me and said Zach you need to be on the next plane home, your ex-wife has brought forth domestic abuse allegations,” Zach Smith told 105.7 FM in Columbus, Ohio, Friday afternoon. “We need you here we need to find out what’s going on.”
Zach Smith, who was fired on July 23 after Courtney obtained a protection order against him and two accusations of domestic abuse were revealed publicly, said he believed Ohio State handled everything appropriately.
“It was. And it was — I think they handled it exactly how they should have handled it,” Zach Smith said. “I mean, I don’t know who else they could have alerted but the police were the ones that alerted them. So the authorities had already been alerted to these allegations. They’re investigating them and I give them credit for the fact that they let this investigation go through and see what the truth behind all of this is. They investigated it and there were no criminal charges, there was nothing they said I did wrong, did I deserve to be charged, so the case it just went away.”
Urban Meyer admits he knew of allegations against Smith in 2015
Zach Smith’s comments came not long after Ohio State coach Urban Meyer admitted that he knew Courtney accused Zach of domestic violence in 2015. Meyer had said at Big Ten media days there was “nothing” to the report of the 2015 accusation but recanted those remarks Friday and said he reported the accusation to the proper channel — without providing specifics — in a letter posted to Twitter.
Courtney Smith has said she told Meyer’s wife Shelley about the abuse allegations and sent Shelley pictures. Zach Smith said he had never abused Courtney throughout their “volatile” relationship but said he had never abused her though he said he had “defensively restrained” her.
“It was toxic, by the end of it it just flat-out needed to end,” Smith said in the radio interview. “There’s a lot of aggressive situations and the only thing that is absolutely true is I’ve never committed domestic abuse against her. Now there’s times where things got out of hand and I had to defensively kind of restrain her and move her and get out of the situation and go sleep at the office or try to remove myself. That absolutely happened. So I don’t know when those pictures are from but all I know is what I’ve ever done in our relationship or in my life.”
Zach Smith: Meyer told me I’d be fired if he found out I hit Courtney
After Zach Smith’s interview with 105.7, ESPN aired an interview with him. He said in the interview that Meyer asked him about the allegations in 2015 and that he denied them to his boss.
“I told him when he asked me, he asked me ‘what the hell is going on?’” Zach Smith said to ESPN. “I told him Courtney is accusing me that I committed domestic violence. I didn’t. I dont know what’s going on, but I’m going to meet with the investigator to find out what the deal is. After that I told him they have some pictures of her. Anything that happened to her body was all just defensive movements to remove myself from the situation. And I said that’s it. I’m not going to get charged because I didn’t do anything wrong.”
He also said Meyer told him that he’d get fired if he hit Courtney.
“He looked at me and said, ‘I swear to god, Zach, if I found out that you hit her, you’re done. You’re fired.’ I said, ‘OK I understand, coach. I didn’t. I’m fine,’” Zach Smith said.
Zach Smith also discussed the 2009 accusation of domestic violence against him with ESPN. That happened when he was working for Meyer at Florida. He was not charged regarding that accusation.
Zach Smith says Urban Meyer knew about a 2009 incident with his wife and he "let due process run its course."
Watch the full interview on SportsCenter at 6 ET on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/fxwseY8M6t
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 3, 2018
Zach Smith also said that he wasn’t too forthcoming with Meyer about the problems he and Courtney were having.
“I wouldn’t tell him anything because I believe this is a private matter between two people in a marriage,” Zach Smith said. “That’s where it should stay, unless a crime occurred, then everybody needs to know. I wasn’t even trying to come to the media. I wasn’t trying to do an interview because this is not anyone’s business but me, my wife and my kids.”
“This is not a domestic violence case. I didn’t tell Urban about any of it because it was between her and I and we were still trying to work on our marriage even though it was on a crash course. We were still trying to get right, it just never happened.”
In the minutes after Zach Smith’s radio interview aired, college football reporter Brett McMurphy shared a screenshot from Courtney’s phone where Zach apologizes after Courtney said he grabbed her by the throat twice and said he couldn’t stand “me catching u in ur lies.”
Zach Smith told @1057TheZone he never abused Courtney. Here is text message b/w Zach & Courtney when he admits & apologizes for strangling his wife on Punta Cana trip in March 2015 & again in April pic.twitter.com/GjcjWh6mFT
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 3, 2018
Zach Smith: ‘I’m not discounting’ pictures are real
Pressed near the end of the interview with 105.7 whether or not the pictures of a bruised Courtney were authentic and reflected the accusations of domestic violence against him, Zach said he didn’t discount that the pictures were real and that it was possible Courtney was bruised when he had “restrained” her and “moved her out of my way.”
“I honestly — I’m not discounting that they aren’t,” Zach Smith said. “I don’t know that. I don’t know when they’re from. I don’t know what they’re from. I honestly have no idea. But there were several times where things got out of hand between us and I’m not saying that as I restrained her and moved her out of my way to exit the house to get out of a volatile situation … it’s completely possible that she got a bruise or a mark. But I honestly don’t know what each picture’s from so I don’t know.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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