Thursday, when a story broke about how both Zach and Courtney Smith’s mothers claimed the domestic abuse charges surrounding the Ohio State football program were part of a revenge plot, we said that it seemed like the twists and turns were only getting started.
That seems to hold true today as we digest the news that Ohio State University Athletic Director Gene Smith has decided to take a vacation the same week his football program is facing its biggest crisis in a decade. ABC6 spoke with Ben Johnson, Director of Media and Public Relations for the school, who said Smith is away but available.
“He is available to speak with the investigative team. The university is focused on supporting our student-athletes as they prepare for the upcoming semester. We can’t comment further during the pending investigation,” said Johnson on Thursday afternoon in an email.
At best, that seems ill-advised. At worst, it seems like Smith is running away from the issue at hand. Not only did the story break last week that OSU assistant coach Zach Smith was accused of multiple domestic violence instances but it was then revealed that head coach Urban Meyer apparently knew of all instances and did nothing about it. Now, Meyer is on administrative leave, some fans are holding ill-advised rallies on campus, the nation is focusing its attention on the Columbus university and how it handles this delicate situation…and Gene Smith is apparently sunning himself on a beach somewhere.
Not to mention that Meyer passed the buck to Smith in the statement he released, saying, “I have followed proper reporting protocols and procedures…by elevating the issues to proper channels.” Those channels would be Smith, who could now be held liable by the university depending on what they find. Of course, the implication is also that Smith’s “vacation” might not be of his own volition, if he’s part of the school’s investigation into the matter.
An independent group handling the internal investigation for Ohio State is expected to reveal its findings on or around Sunday, August 19. The school has said that decisions based on the findings of the investigation will be made “by the president of the university in consultation with the Board of Trustees.” The next scheduled OSU Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for August 31, which is the Friday before the school’s first game of the season. They could call a special meeting to deal with the issue but have yet to do so.