GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Former Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley is declining to say what, if anything, coach Urban Meyer told him about Zach Smith’s domestic violence arrest in 2009.
Meyer was placed on paid leave last week by Ohio State amid questions about what he knew and did about accusations of abuse made against Smith. The former Buckeyes assistant coach was fired July 24 after his ex-wife sought a restraining order against him. The couple divorced in 2016.
The Associated Press asked the Gators to provide details regarding how Meyer and his bosses handled Smith’s arrest nearly a decade ago, but Foley declined comment Friday through a university spokesman. Foley is currently Florida’s emeritus AD.
Meyer released a statement last week saying he has “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.” It raised questions about what Florida officials, specifically Foley, knew and how they reacted to Smith’s arrest on June 21, 2009.
Boston College and Marshall previously commented about what they knew before hiring Smith.
Florida, though, is choosing to remain quiet.
Smith was arrested in 2009 on a charge of aggravated battery on a pregnant woman, his wife. He was graduate assistant on Meyer’s staff at the time.
According to a Gainesville Police Department report, Zach and Courtney Smith got into a verbal altercation over infidelity around 3 a.m. when Zach brought a female co-worker home following a party.
The report states that Zach pleaded with his wife to let the woman spend the night. Courtney Smith ended up taking the woman home and got into a heated argument with Zach upon her return home. Zach refused to leave the couple’s bed, the report said.
Zach grabbed his wife “by her T-shirt, picked her up and threw her into the bedroom wall,” according to the report. Courtney Smith was 8-10 weeks pregnant.
Zach denied throwing his wife or any form of physical violence. The victim’s shirt had visible signs that it had been stretched from the incident, police said, and the defendant had visible redness on his right bicep.
Zach, who was in his fourth year on Meyer’s staff at Florida, was handcuffed and booked into the Alachua County Jail.
Ohio State has formed a trustees committee to coordinate the investigation and hired a firm to conduct the probe of Meyer.
Smith has never been criminally charged or convicted.
Meyer initially told reporters at Big Ten Media Days on July 25 that he didn’t know anything about abuse allegations made by Courtney Smith in October 2015. Meyer later acknowledged he knew about the 2015 incidents and insisted he followed proper protocol. He also said he lied to reporters about it.
What Meyer knew and when he knew it became a question after college football writer Brett McMurphy reported that Courtney Smith had told Meyer’s wife Shelley about the 2015 incidents and shared pictures of injuries through text messages that she shared with McMurphy.
Smith denied assaulting his wife and said any physical injuries she might have suffered were the result of him defending himself. He said he discussed the 2015 allegations at the time with Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith.