Meyer had surgery on the cyst in his brain in 2014, but worsening headaches caused by the condition propelled him to retire
Urban Meyer, the highly successful football coach who won three national championships and sparked controversy this season for his handling of domestic violence allegations against a now-fired assistant, will retire after the Rose Bowl, Ohio State University announced Tuesday.
After compiling an 82-9 record over seven seasons in Columbus, the 54-year-old Meyer said he is stepping down primarily because of worsening headaches caused by the arachnoid cyst in his brain. He previously underwent surgery to address the issue in 2014.
‘I dealt with, in 2014 had that surgery, then it reoccurred last year, Meyer said. ‘I had some issues last year.’
Offensive coordinator Ryan Day was named the program’s 25th head coach during the press conference on Tuesday afternoon. According to multiple reports, Day is receiving a five-year contract.
Although he previously announced his retirement while coaching at the University of Florida, Meyer believes this will be the last time he steps away from football.
‘I believe I will not coach again,’ he said at Tuesday’s press conference. However, Meyer, an OSU alum, said he hopes to remain involved with the Buckeyes program in some way.
Meyer had shown obvious effects of being in pain on the sideline this season.
He also was heavily criticized for what some saw as overly lax treatment of now-fired assistant coach Zach Smith, who was accused by his ex-wife of domestic abuse. He continues to deny the allegations and the couple divorced in 2016.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and wide receiver Terry McLaurin, left, celebrate early after defeating Northwestern 45-24 in the Big Ten championship on Saturday night
Ohio State Buckeyes Offensive Coordinator Ryan Day is expected to become head coach
Meyer said he knew about the accusations against Smith – grandson of former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce – but wasn’t sure they were true and kept Smith on his staff because no criminal charges were filed. The university cited that lapse in suspending Meyer for the first three games of the season after an investigation.
WHAT ARE ARACHNOID CYSTS?
Arachnoid cysts are a genetic disorder that often begin in infancy, and occur in one of the three tissue layers that surround the brain and spinal cord. While most do not require treatment, some need to be drained through surgery or shunting.
Symptoms can include headaches, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, seizures, visible lumps, developmental delays, obstruction of normal cerebrospinal fluid circulation, and vision problems.
A detailed report issued by an investigative committee left a lasting stain, detailing behavior by Meyer that could have taken down a coach of lesser stature. The investigation showed that he tolerated bad behavior for years from Smith, including domestic-violence accusations, drug addiction, lies and other acts that directly clash with the values Meyer touts publicly.
Meyer was 81-9 with a national championship at Ohio State after six years at Florida, where he won two national titles. In 2018, the Buckeyes finished the regular season at 12-1 thanks to a win over rival Michigan and a Big Ten Championship victory over Northwester.
On January 1, the sixth-ranked Buckeyes will face ninth-ranked Washington in the Rose Bowl.
Meyer retires as one of the NCAA’s highest-paid coaches at $7.6 million annually. He has about $38 million left on his contract.
Meyer’s 2018 season will be remembered for the Zach Smith (left) affair, in which the now-former Buckeyes wide receivers coach was accused of domestic violence by his former wife. The accusation brought Meyer’s handling of the matter into question
Courtney Smith documented pictures of bruises she claims came from ex-husband Zach
Meyer’s 2018 will forever be remembered for the accusations against Zach Smith, a former wide receivers coach who remained with the Buckeyes after his ex-wife Courtney Smith claimed he assaulted her in 2015.
She also accused him of abuse in 2009, when Smith worked as a graduate assistant under Meyer at the University of Florida.
The most-recent allegations against Zach Smith came to light in July when Courtney successfully petitioned the judge to get a protective order against her ex-husband, which led to his dismissal at Ohio State.
According to Courtney Smith, Urban Meyer’s wife Shelley (left) was told about Zach Smith’s alleged abuse against his now-former wife
Despite seemingly denying any knowledge of the accusation during the Big Ten Media Days in July, Meyer has since acknowledged that he was aware of the allegations against Smith.
In August, Courtney Smith claimed that she had repeatedly told Meyer’s wife Shelley about the abuse, both during their time in Gainesville, Florida and after moving to the Columbus, Ohio area when Meyer took the Buckeyes position.
As Meyer explained, his handling of the situation was clouded by his abiding devotion to the legacy of former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, the grandfather of former wide receivers coach Zach Smith and an early coaching mentor for Meyer.
Meyer’s suspension followed a two-week investigation into his handling of the situation. A summary of the investigation concluded that Zach Smith’s conduct was repeatedly ‘met with reprimands and warnings by Coach Meyer, but never a written report, never an investigation and no disciplinary action until July 23, 2018,’ which is when he was fired.
In August, Meyer released a statement to address what he believed was inaccurate reporting about his handling of the situation. .
‘… [T]here have been a number of things reported in the media about President [Michael V.] Drake’s decision and the Investigative Team’s report that have not been correct and must be clarified,’ wrote Meyer in a statement he posted on Twitter.
Without mentioning any reporter by name, Meyer proceeded to list three issues he has with the coverage: the 54-year old emphasized he was not suspended because he knew about the abuse or condoned it in any way; he insists he did not lie at Big Ten Media Days when he denied knowing about the 2015 allegations to reporters – a statement he later clarified; and the three-time national champion stressed that his real misstep was his failure to take ‘action sooner against a troubled employee.’
Meyer won a pair of national titles as head coach at Florida before his first retirement
The Buckeyes’ strong finish this season belied on-the-field problems that made for a stressful season for Meyer and his staff. He lost star defensive end Nick Bosa to an early season-ending injury, and the Buckeyes’ defense never fully recovered. During his suspension, the team was run by Day, the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He’s a second-year Ohio State assistant who had never before been a head coach.
The team alternated expected blowout wins with puzzling play that included a pair of one-point wins (Penn State, Maryland) and a closer-than-expected win over a struggling Nebraska team. A shocking blowout loss at unranked Purdue on Oct. 20 pushed Ohio State to the fringe of the national championship chase and prompted all sorts of questions about Meyer’s future.
Shortly before Halloween, Meyer addressed speculation that he could step down at the end of the season, saying he felt fine and definitely would be back next year.
‘I plan on coaching,’ he said on October 29. Asked if he would definitely return to Ohio State next year, he answered, ‘Yes.’
Ohio State’s season had five straight wins, including a rout of archrival Michigan that gave the Buckeyes another division title and a win over Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship.
But the loss to Purdue weighed too heavily and Ohio State finished at No. 6 in the playoff rankings. The Buckeyes will play in the Rose Bowl against Washington on New Year’s Day, which will serve as Meyer’s coaching finale.
Meyer previously stepped away from the game in 2009, when he served as head coach of the Florida Gators. Following his team’s loss in the SEC Championship Game, Meyer was admitted to a local hospital while suffering chest pains and dehydration.
Although the incident was not announced publicly at the time, he ultimately revealed the problem on December 26 and announced his intention to resign after the Gators’ Sugar Bowl appearance on New Year’s Day.
‘I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family.’
That retirement was changed to a leave of absence, and he ultimately coached the team in 2010 before resigning again in early 2011.
After a brief stint with ESPN, Meyer was named head coach at Ohio State near the end of the 2011 campaign. His Buckeyes ultimately won a national title in 2014.
NOTABLE FINDINGS IN OSU PROBE
By The Associated Press
Ohio State released a 23-page summary of findings from an independent investigation of coach Urban Meyer’s handling of domestic violence allegations against a former Buckeyes assistant coach Zach Smith. Meyer was suspended for the first three games of the season and missed six weeks of pay.
Some notable findings:
– Urban Meyer and his wife, Shelley, doubted the veracity of Courtney Smith’s allegations of violence and abuse from her ex-husband. Urban Meyer called the Smith situation a ‘he said she said’ in a text with a former player. He also insisted to investigators he met with Courtney Smith after Zach Smith’s 2009 arrest and that she recanted her original story to authorities. Courtney Smith told investigators she never met with Meyer or recanted any allegations.
Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates with his wife Shelley following the Big Ten Championship against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Courtney Smith claimed Shelley was well aware of the alleged abuse she was enduring at the hands of her now ex-husband, former Buckeyes assistant Zach Smith
– Meyer, athletic director Gene Smith, who was also suspended without pay for two weeks, and others throughout Ohio State thought it wasn’t their place to do anything about allegations against Zach Smith unless law enforcement took more action like making an arrest or filing charges. Investigators called that a widespread misunderstanding of their reporting obligations.
– Investigators were troubled by the fact that after a media report in which Courtney Smith said she told Shelley Meyer in 2015 that Zach Smith assaulted her, Urban Meyer asked a staffer about deleting text messages more than a year old by changing settings on his phone.
– While assessing why Meyer made misleading statements at Big Ten media day when asked about the 2015 incident between Zach Smith and Courtney Smith that was reported to police, investigators said they learned ‘Coach Meyer has sometimes had significant memory issues in other situations where he had prior extensive knowledge of events.’ Investigators said Meyer has periodically taken medicine that can negatively impair his memory, concentration, and focus.
– The investigation identified ‘a pattern of troubling behavior by Zach Smith: promiscuous and embarrassing sexual behavior, drug abuse, truancy, dishonesty, financial irresponsibility, a possible NCAA violation, and a lengthy police investigation into allegations of criminal domestic violence and cybercrimes.’
Zach Smith allegedly ran up significant strip club bills while serving as an assistant
– Zach Smith ran up a big strip club bill in 2014 with a high school coach in Florida and spent $600 in personal funds. Meyer reprimanded Zach Smith but didn’t report the issue to compliance officers or the athletic director. Investigators said they told the NCAA about the incident.
– In June 2016 at Meyer’s urging, Zach Smith was admitted to a drug treatment facility for addiction to a unspecified stimulant prescription drug, the report said, adding that Gene Smith was never told about it.
– Investigators found that Meyer was determined to not disclose Zach Smith’s issues to the media and went too far in his denials when he lied to reporters at Big Ten media days about his knowledge of the 2015 police incident. But the report also found that Meyer ‘has sometimes had significant memory issues in other situations where he had prior extensive knowledge of events.’ Meyer has taken medicine that can hurt his memory, concentration and focus, the report said.
– The report said Zach Smith’s conduct was repeatedly ‘met with reprimands and warnings by Coach Meyer, but never a written report, never an investigation and no disciplinary action until July 23, 2018.
Urban Meyer released a statement to correct what he sees as inaccurate reporting