COLUMBUS, Ohio — Fired Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith denied ever abusing his then-wife, allegations he said in a radio interview Friday that athletic director Gene Smith was aware of in the immediate aftermath of an alleged incident in 2015.
Smith was fired last month after allegations of stalking, trespassing and harassment were made by Courtney Smith as part of a protective order she was granted. Courtney Smith alleged in interviews this week and in police and court records obtained by USA TODAY Sports that Zach Smith had abused her on multiple occasions.
Those revelations led Ohio State to put head coach Urban Meyer on paid administrative leave this week as the school’s board of trustees conducts an investigation of how Meyer and others handled the allegations against Smith.
“I’ve never committed domestic abuse against her,” Smith said on WXZX-FM.
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Zach Smith said that Gene Smith pulled him off the road during a recruiting trip after the allegations — which did not result in criminal charges — were brought to his attention in 2015.
“Gene Smith said I have to be on the next plane back,” Zach Smith said.
Meyer put out a statement earlier Friday in which he said he misspoke at Big Ten Media Day last week when he said he had no knowledge of the 2015 accusations.
“My intention was not to say anything inaccurate or misleading,” Meyer said. “However, I was not adequately prepared to discuss these sensitive personnel issues with the media and I apologize for the way I handled those questions.”
Meyer added that he routed the allegations surrounding the 2015 incident “to the proper channels.” Meyer did the same in 2009 when Smith, then a graduate assistant under him at the University of Florida, was arrested in Gainesville, Fla., on suspicion of domestic violence. Prosecutors didn’t pursue the two felony charges Smith faced.
Smith said in an interview on ESPN that Meyer threatened to fire him both in 2009 and 2015 if he found out that he struck Courtney Smith.
Smith said in the radio interview he was terminated because of the “media uproar.”
“It’s a move they had to make,” Smith added. “I don’t think that I deserved it, but it wasn’t wrong.”
Follow A.J. Perez on Twitter @byajperez.