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Advocate: Meyer Failed By Apologizing To 'Buckeye Nation' And Not Victim

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer watches Ohio State during its spring game on April 14, 2018 in Ohio Stadium.
Jay LaPrete

An advocate for domestic violence survivors says Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer fell short while apologizing for how he handled accusations against a former assistant coach.

In a Wednesday evening press conference, Meyer repeatedly apologized to "Buckeye Nation" for not properly forwarding allegations against former assistance coach Zach Smith.

When a reporter asked what he would say to Smith's ex-wife Courtney Smith, the alleged victim, Meyer said just, "I'm sorry that we're in this situation."

That missed the mark, said Nancy Neylon, director of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network.

"I don't think frankly, the 'Buckeye Nation' experienced a lot of trauma," Neylon said. "I mean, sorry the coach isn't going to be at the game, but oh well. So that... felt very insincere to me."

Neylon says there is nothing leading her to believe a similar scandal couldn't happen again tomorrow. She also has questions about whether Meyer's and Ohio State's response would encourage future victims to come forward.

The university suspended Meyer for three games for not telling Ohio State’s compliance office what he knew, which is a requirement for school employees. Ohio State President Michael Drake also cited Meyer's conflicting statements on the issue when announcing the suspension.

Athletic Director Gene Smith also faces a 17-day suspension. Both he and Meyer said they did not talk to the school's compliance office because police were already investigating.

At the Wednesday press conference, lead investigator Mary Jo White said it's especially important to forward accusations of domestic violence because victims often opt to not press charges and abuse can continue.