Ohio State Trustee Resigns on Coach Punishment

August 31, 2018

A member of Ohio State University’s Board of Trustees has resigned, saying that the institution’s three-game suspension for head football coach Urban Meyer was too light after an investigation found Meyer mishandled accusations of domestic violence against a former assistant coach.

Jeffrey Wadsworth, a retired engineer and executive, stepped down shortly after the university announced the punishment against Meyer earlier this month. He told The New York Times Thursday that he was the “lone voice” in “advocating a harsher punishment.”

“To me, there was something altogether wrong about reducing it to a couple of games,” he told the Times.

Meyer was suspended for three September games after a panel found that he knew of multiple occasions on which Zach Smith, the now-fired assistant coach, had been accused of abuse by his ex-wife, Courtney Smith. Zach Smith has denied the abuse.

Meyer did not report Courtney Smith’s allegations in 2015 to the athletics compliance office. Meyer also deleted text messages from his phone following a public records request, an apparent attempt to conceal the information, although in their final report investigators could not conclude this definitively.

Meyer has also been blasted after the panel reported “memory loss” as a potential reason he did not disclose to reporters that he knew of the 2015 allegations against Zach Smith.

“You read the report,” Wadsworth told the Times. “And there’s seven or eight things about emails, memory loss, hearing things five times, and to me that raised an issue of standards, values -- not how many games someone should be suspended for.”

Wadsworth is the first among the 20 board members to speak publicly about Meyer’s case, which the trustees debated for roughly 11 hours before announcing the decision with university president Michael V. Drake.

In a statement to the Times confirming Wadsworth’s resignation, the university said, “The president and the Board of Trustees had a frank and comprehensive discussion last week. A wide variety of perspectives were expressed in reaching a consensus. Mr. Wadsworth has been an exceptionally valuable member of the board. His service to the university is deeply appreciated and we wish him the very best.”

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