The former Ohio State assistant football coach who was fired last month after revelations of domestic violence against his ex-wife once had professional ties to Boston College coach Steve Addazio and athletic director Martin Jarmond.
In the wake of Ohio State firing assistant coach Zach Smith in July and placing head coach Urban Meyer on administrative leave, Adazzio and Jarmond each issued statements Saturday.
Smith was on the same coaching staff under Urban Meyer at the University of Florida and was also an assistant on Addazio’s staff at Temple in 2011.
“While an assistant coach at Florida in 2009, I was aware that there was an issue in the personal life of Zach and Courtney Smith,” Addazio stated. “I did not know specifics, and I knew the matter was in the hands of university personnel and that the couple was involved in counseling.
“As a husband, father and coach, I have zero tolerance for domestic abuse. There is no place in our program at Boston College for any member of our staff involved in domestic violence.”
Smith was an assistant coach under Meyer at Ohio State while Jarmond was an administrator in the athletic department. Jarmond echoed the zero-tolerance stance.
“Domestic violence is an issue we take very seriously at Boston College,” Jarmond said in a statement. “As athletic director, I am committed to educating and developing our student-athletes and staff with our Jesuit values, which include zero tolerance for such behavior in any form.
“I feel it would not be appropriate for me to comment on matters involving Ohio State during their ongoing investigation.”
Smith, who spent six seasons as a wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Ohio State under Meyer before his termination on July 23, was also a graduate assistant under Meyer at the University of Florida from 2005-10, the same span as Addazio’s entire tenure as an assistant head coach, offensive coordinator, and offensive line coach at Florida.
In 2009, Smith was arrested for aggravated battery of a pregnant victim during an incident in which Smith allegedly threw down his then-wife, Courtney, during an argument in their Gainesville, Fla., home. Following the incident, charges were dropped.
As Temple’s head coach in 2011, Addazio hired Smith as a wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator.
Later that year, Smith took a job as an assistant under Meyer at Ohio State. In 2015, police investigated Smith for another domestic violence incident.
Before becoming BC’s athletic director last year, Jarmond spent seven years in Ohio State’s athletic department — rising from associate athletic director in 2009 to executive associate athletic director in 2012 and deputy director of athletics in 2016.
While he worked closely with Meyer as the football program’s sports administrator, Jarmond did not factor into Smith’s hiring.
In May, Smith was charged with criminal trespassing after dropping off their son at his ex-wife’s apartment.
On July 23, former ESPN college football writer Brett McMurphy posted a story on his Facebook page that Courtney Smith had filed a domestic violence civil protection order against her ex-husband. That same day, Ohio State announced its decision to fire Smith.
When Meyer met with reporters at the Big Ten Media Days on July 24, he was asked about his level of knowledge of the allegations against Smith in 2009 and 2015.
He acknowledged awareness of the incident in 2009 but dismissed the incident in 2015, saying, “There was nothing, I don’t know who creates a story like that.”
McMurphy followed up with another story on his Facebook page that included an interview with Courtney Smith laying out years of Zach Smith’s alleged abuse, public documents detailing Smith’s arrests and court filings, and text messages between Smith and Meyer’s wife, Shelley, that seemed to dispel Meyer’s notion about his awareness of the incident.
After initially denying any knowledge of the allegations, Meyer released a statement on his Twitter account on Friday, saying he “was not adequately prepared to discuss these sensitive personnel issues with the media.”
“Over the past several days, I have been portrayed as being indifferent to domestic violence and as someone who did not take appropriate action, when warranted,” Meyer’s statement read. “While over three decades of coaching I have learned to ignore how others define me, I do feel it necessary to share the truth with the Buckeye family.
“Here is the truth: While at the University of Florida, and now at The Ohio State University, I have always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels. And, I did so regarding the Zach Smith incident in 2015. I take that responsibility very seriously and any suggestion to the contrary is simply false.”
Ohio State has assembled a six-person independent board to oversee its investigation into Meyer’s handling of the incident.
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.