After Brett McMurphy’s explosive reporting on the alleged abuse Courtney Smith sustained at the hands of her ex-husband, recently fired Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith, Courtney appeared in an on-camera interview with Stadium on Wednesday.
She offered further details on the abuse and answered questions about what others around the Ohio State program knew.
The first instance of abuse took place in 2009, when Smith was a low-level assistant on Meyer’s staff at Florida. There were other incidents in between, but it wasn’t until a 2015 incident that she decided to come forward.
Specifically, Courtney said she informed Shelley Meyer, Urban Meyer’s wife of nearly 30 years, about what was happening. She spoke with Shelley on the phone and showed pictures that documented the abuse.
“In 2015, I spoke to Shelley. I sent her some pictures. I spoke to her on the phone. At that point, we were legally separated and enough is enough. If I leave the marriage, I’m hoping this is going to stop. This has to stop,” Courtney said.
“Shelley said she was going to have to tell Urban. I said, ‘That’s fine. You should tell Urban.’ We can’t have somebody like this coaching young men.”
From there, Shelley would check in on her, Courtney said. However, Courtney said she does not know if Shelley ever relayed the specifics of their conversations to Urban.
“She would reach out to me, ask me how I’m doing, tell me she’s worried and that if I needed anything she was there,” Courtney said.
“When somebody is crying out for help, I believe the coach and the coach’s wife have a duty. They have a duty to do something. To help. Instead of worrying about winning games or instead of worrying about who his mentor is and who his (Zach’s) family is and trying to protect that, somebody’s safety, the safety of their children and the environment that they’re in needs to be more important.”
Courtney says she believes Urban was aware of the abuse.
“I hope in the future he never turns his head away again. I know Shelley did everything she could. I firmly believe that. She was very supportive. She never made me feel uncomfortable. She never made me feel like I was a threat by telling her these things,” Courtney said.
She continued, “I believe (Urban) knew. Instead he chose to help the abuser. Nobody from the university came to me and asked me for my side of the story. That’s a problem. It needs to change.”
When she told her parents and Zach’s parents about the abuse, Courtney said they discouraged her from contacting the police.
“I was scared. I did tell my parents. I told his parents as well. I remember texting pictures to my mom, my dad and his dad begging for help. Like, this has to stop. This isn’t normal. I can’t do this anymore. And I was told, ‘Don’t call the police. If you call the police, he’s going to get arrested and it’s going to go to the media and he’s going to lose his job. What are you and the kids going to do?’ she said.
“And when you’ve been abused, you really do think you can change them. You think, ‘Well, if I do something different, he’ll change.’ And it’s not the case. They don’t change.”
Last week at Big Ten Media Days, Meyer, a day after firing Smith, said he was not aware of the 2015 incident, which involved Zach Smith being arrested on felony counts of domestic violence and felonious assault against Courtney, who says Zach shoved her against a wall with his hands around her neck.
Meyer did acknowledge he was aware of the incident involving the Smiths from 2009, but was quick to dismiss the validity of the 2015 allegation and said he only found out about it the day before.
“I got a text late last night that something happened in 2015 and there was nothing,” Meyer said July 24. “I don’t know who creates a story like that.”
Urban Meyer’s comments about Zach Smith’s dismissal.
He said what was reported in 2009 about an alleged domestic violence incident “wasn’t actually what happened” and a 2015 alleged incident does not exist.
“I don’t know who creates a story like that." pic.twitter.com/22RcIPnhUB
— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) July 24, 2018
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