Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer is retiring, the school said on Tuesday. Meyer will depart OSU after a season in which he was suspended for three games over his handling of domestic abuse allegations against an assistant coach. His last game will be in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Meyer will be replaced by offensive coordinator Ryan Day — who led the team when the head coach served his suspension for the first three games of the 2018 season.
In addition to the domestic abuse scandal, Meyer “has been slowed by headaches caused by a cyst,” member station WOSU reports, adding, “The chatter increased after he looked more distressed and beleaguered than usual on the sideline during the 49-20 loss to unranked Purdue on Oct. 20.”
Meyer, 54, has won three national titles — two at Florida and one at Ohio State. With one game left to play this season, he has an overall win-loss record of 186-32.
This season, Ohio State is 12-1 and won the Big Ten conference title, but it did not make it into the final four of the College Football Playoff, which will decide the national champion. Currently ranked No. 6, the Buckeyes will face Washington in the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State’s athletic department says it will hold a news conference to announce the coaching transition from Meyer to Day at 2 p.m. ET.
Meyer has been Ohio State’s head coach since 2012, amassing an 82-9 record — and never losing to the school’s arch-rival, Michigan. But both the coach and his university were criticized earlier this year for their response to domestic abuse allegations against longtime assistant Zach Smith by his ex-wife, Courtney Smith.
As NPR’s James Doubek reported, “Meyer fired Zach Smith, an assistant coach, on July 23 after learning of reports that … Courtney Smith had been given a domestic violence civil protection order against him a few days before.”
At that time, Meyer said he and his staff had not previously known about the allegation. But that immediately drew skepticism, along with questions about how long Meyer had known about the accusations — and whether he had reported them, as required by Title IX.
Ohio State’s inquiry revealed that Meyer had known about domestic abuse allegations against Smith since at least 2015, when police investigated the case — and when, according to Courtney Smith, she told Meyer’s wife about it. After a months-long investigation from 2015-16, no charges were filed. The Smiths divorced in 2016.
OSU said the lack of charges led Meyer and the school’s athletic director, Gene Smith, to believe they were not required to report the situation or take disciplinary action. It suspended both men over their lack of action.
Amid the scrutiny on Meyer’s program, it also emerged that Zach Smith’s treatment of his wife had drawn police scrutiny nearly 10 years ago — shortly after Meyer first took him on as a graduate assistant at the University of Florida.
As The Tampa Bay Times reported earlier this year, “Smith was arrested in 2009 for allegedly jamming his pregnant wife into a wall.”
When he left Florida, Meyer cited health concerns as the main reason. He had been hospitalized after a high-profile loss to Alabama. But as ESPN reported in 2015, the coach also left “myriad off-field issues,” including more than 30 arrests of players during Meyer’s six-year tenure.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Meyer started his coaching career with a two-year stint at Bowling Green State. He followed that with another two years at Utah, where he cemented his reputation for developing high-powered offenses.