Damning report claims Urban Meyer knew of 2015 domestic abuse allegations involving assistant

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A disturbing situation that Urban Meyer and the Ohio State football program had hoped had passed with a dismissal has instead resurfaced with a vengeance.

On the same day that two new reports of alleged domestic abuse, one from 2009 and another from 2015, surfaced, Zach Smith was dismissed as the Buckeyes’ wide receivers coach on July 23. At the Big Ten Media Days the next day, Meyer acknowledged that he was aware of the 2009 incident but vehemently denied any knowledge of one in 2015.  In fact, Meyer intimated that those allegations were fabricated as he described the decision to dismiss Smith, who was cited in May for criminal trespassing following an incident with his ex-wife, as a “very tough call.”

Wednesday, college football insider Brett McMurphy dropped a damning bomb on Facebook, writing that “[t]ext messages I have obtained, an exclusive interview with the victim and other information I have learned shows Ohio State coach Urban Meyer knew in 2015 of domestic abuse allegations against a member of his coaching staff.” The fired assistant’s ex-wife and the alleged victim in at least four domestic abuse situations, Courtney Smith, “provided text messages between her and the wives of Ohio State coaches – including Urban Meyer’s wife, Shelley – showing Meyer’s knowledge of the situation,” McMurphy added.

“Shelly said she was going to have to tell Urban,” Courtney claimed according to McMurphy. “I said: ‘That’s fine, you should tell Urban.’ I know Shelley did everything she could.”

Nowhere in the lengthy posting — I urge you to read it in full HERE — does it show that Shelley Meyer actually followed through and told her husband about the domestic abuse, it should be noted.  That said, a text message exchange between Courtney Smith and the wife of one of Meyer’s long-time football staffers showed that the head coach had indeed talked to Zach Smith about the allegations of domestic abuse in October of 2015.

Lindsey [Voltolini] is the wife of Brian Voltolini, considered one of Meyer’s most loyal staff members. Brian is Ohio State’s football operations director and has been part of Meyer’s staffs for 15 seasons at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State.

Courtney: “(Zach’s) trying to make me look crazy bc that’s what Shelley is saying (he’s doing)”
Lindsey: “He (Urban) just said he (Zach) denied everything”
Courtney: “I hope urban is smarter than that”
Lindsey: “He (Urban) doesn’t know what to think”
Courtney: “I don’t really care. Ya know”
Lindsey: “Yeah, don’t worry about urb”

At the very least, that text exchange, if accurately portrayed and relayed to McMurphy, showed Meyer was indeed aware of the 2015 incident and essentially lied when he told the media last month that he “was never told anything about [the 2015 incident], nothing ever came to light, never had a conversation about it, so I know nothing about it.”

McMurphy’s report also claims that Shelley Meyer, who the head coach said last month has “always weighed in as my best friend and soul mate. … She’s been right there with everything,” had deep and extensive knowledge of the abuse Courtney Smith had endured at the hands of one of her husband’s assistant coaches.

One 2015 text exchange between Courtney and Shelley Meyer shows the extent of Shelley’s knowledge of the alleged domestic abuse and that she was concerned for Courtney’s safety.

Shelley: “I am with you! A lot of women stay hoping it will get better. I don’t blame you! But just want u to be safe. Do you have a restraining order? He scares me”
Courtney: “Restraining orders don’t do anything in Ohio-I tried to get protection order which is what started this whole investigation. And that should go through soon finally. It’s hard bc you have to prove immediate danger. Legal system is tough. Basically you have to prove he will kill u to get protective order”
Shelley: “Geesh! Even w the pics? Didn’t law enforcement come to your place ever??

Zach Smith is the grandson of the late Earle Bruce, a close friend of Meyer’s. “He is the strongest relationship I’ve ever had other than my father,” Meyer has stated of the former OSU head coach.  This latest report claims that Bruce and another close friend of Meyer’s, Hiram de Fries, had at various points urged/pressured  Courtney Smith to not pursue charges against the now-34-year-old assistant coach.

“I know why nothing was done. Everyone was out to protect themselves,” McMurphy quoted Courtney Smith as saying. “Zach had people that were far more powerful than I would ever be that were protecting him and for the wrong reasons. I think people that knew (about the abuse) should have helped me. Instead, they chose to enable an abuser.

As of this posting, OSU officials have declined to address the explosive claims made in McMurphy’s posting.

Again, you can read McMurphy’s full report HERE — and I strongly urge you to do just that.

UPDATED 12:37 p.m. ET: In a portion of a video interview with Courtney Smith just released, Zach Smith’s ex-wife is asked if Shelley Meyer ever came back to her and told her that she had informed Urban Meyer of the abuse.

“She did not.”

North Carolina switching from grass to synthetic surface

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North Carolina will pull up the roots on Kenan Stadium’s grass field and replace it with a synthetic surface, the program announced Monday.

While it won’t look as good on fall Saturdays, it will allow UNC to use the field as often as it wants without damaging the surface.

“Installing synthetic grass at Kenan Stadium not only is the best option for our football team and football game days – it also benefits our other varsity programs that may want to use Kenan as a conditioning space,” Tar Heels AD Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. “With 28 teams and more than 800 student-athletes, we are always looking for ways to create multi-use spaces, and installing synthetic grass at Kenan does that.”

North Carolina will go with RootZone 3D3 Blend, made by AstroTurf. The installation will begin on May 12, after spring graduation, and take “about eight weeks,” which would put Kenan Stadium’s field back in play well in time for training camp.

“I think this is a positive addition for not only our football program, but the athletics department as a whole,” added Mack Brown. “This will make the facility more versatile and give us a number of options for workouts and practices.”

With the change, North Carolina will become the sixth ACC program to play on an artificial surface, joining Boston College, Duke, Louisville, Syracuse and Wake Forest.

NCAA to appeal federal antitrust ruling

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The NCAA will appeal a ruling that found the organization in violation of antitrust laws, the organization announced on Saturday.

“We believe, and the Supreme Court has recognized, that N.C.A.A. member schools and conferences are best positioned to strengthen and revise their rules to better support student-athletes, rather than forcing these issues into continuous litigation,” NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said.

The anticipated ruling by US District Court judge Claudia Wilken was technically a win for the plaintiffs — a group of former Division I football and basketball players, led by former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston and former Cal basketball player Justine Hartman and collectively referred to as “Alston” — and a blow for the NCAA, though neither side left the courtroom feeling like victors.

Wilken found the NCAA’s amateurism rules were indeed illegal collusion. But rather than blow up the entire system and allowing conferences to set such rules as tight or loose as they would like, the judge instead ruled the NCAA could no longer cap student-athletes’ compensation and benefits only as far as said benefits applied to education.

“Technically the plaintiffs won the case and the NCAA will not be happy that they were found to be in violation of antitrust law, but ultimately this allows the NCAA to keep the bulk of their amateurism rules in place,” Gabe Feldman, director of Tulane’s sports law program, told the AP at the time.

So, athletes did not win the right to market their name, image and likeness on the free market, but the NCAA could not stop schools from giving its athletes as many laptops as they would like, to pick a rough example.

Clearly, though, the NCAA will not take that loss-that-was-in-actuality-more-like-a-victory lying down, and will instead appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where in 2015 a three-judge panel ruled all payments to athletes must be “tethered to education.”

LSU lands commitment from Demon Clowney

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Each year, various outlets put out an All-Name Team for the recruiting class that just signed. We not only have the Class of 2020’s All-Name Team MVP, we have a first ballot entry into the Name Hall of Fame (Hall of Name?): Demon Clowney.

The player, whose name looks like Demon Clown with a couple letters tacked on the end but is actually pronounced Da-Mon, a 4-star defensive end from Baltimore, committed to LSU on Saturday. The Tigers beat out Georgia and Clemson for Clowney’s pledge, among others.

Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 225 pounds, Clowney is the second cousin of Jadeveon Clowney, though the two aren’t that close, as is common of distant relatives born a decade apart and raised in separate states.

“I know there are a lot of people probably coming out of the woodwork with their hands out, and that’s not me,” Demon told Bleacher Report in 2018 on reaching out to Jadeveon. “I’m doing what I have to do.”

With Clowney’s pledge, LSU’s 10-man 2020 class now ranks No. 2 nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Georgia early enrollee arrested on disorderly conduct charge

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Georgia cornerback Tyrique Stevenson was arrested Sunday morning on charges of disorderly conduct, according to Athens-Clarke County jail records obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A 5-star early enrollee from Homestead, Fla., Stevenson was booked at 2:42 a.m. and released on $1,000 bond at 3:26 a.m.

Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor.

While the events that led to the arrest remain light and Georgia has not commented on the incident, it is part of a concerning trend for the program.

Stevenson is the third Bulldog arrested in the past month, joining linebacker Jaden Hunter and defensive back Latavious Brini. Hunter was arrested for a traffic violation and driving with a suspended license, while Brini was charged with simple battery for allegedly slapping a man outside an Athens bar on Feb. 28.

All three charges are misdemeanors.