It seems that not a month goes by where there are allegations of misbehavior by college coaches or support staff. Ohio State University has been mired in the scandals of former head coach Jim Tressel who stepped down in 2011 after failing to report student athletes bartering team gear for services like tattoos. There was OSU team doctor Richard Strauss, who allegedly abused students before killing himself in 2005. This has led to class action lawsuit. There is also a class action lawsuit involving diving coach William Bohonyi, who allegedly preyed on female divers, including at least one who was under age 18.
OSU football once again unfortunately makes news
Now football head coach Urban Meyer and his staff is making the news in national media outlets that are not dedicated to sports. The coach of three national champions, Meyer has been put on paid leave as investigators determine what he knew about spousal abuse issues tied to longtime assistant coach Zach Smith, particularly allegations of abuse in 2015.
Former receiver coach Smith was fired on July 23 after he was served with civil protection order involving his ex-wife, who claims he abused her in front of their children. Smith’s wife Courtney Smith told Urban Meyer’s wife of the abuse that had started in 2009 and that the other wives knew as well. Meyer’s wife said she would speak with her husband about it, but Courtney Smith never followed up.
Meyer has voluntarily stepped aside while the investigation runs its course, believing that it is in the best interests of the team that is preparing for its upcoming season. Meyer’s recent contract requires him to report violations of Ohio State’s sexual misconduct policy and to report any knowledge of domestic abuse by a university employee.
Public entities need to protect themselves
Large state schools like OSU are public entities that have thousands of employees. They are public institutions that have obligations to their students, staff and communities. While these are high profile examples, it is important for schools to draw up codes of conduct agreements that coach Meyer signed, and to investigate and protect themselves from a variety of legal issues, including spousal abuse, sexual assault, general liability and a complex array of other matters. An Attorney with experience can evaluate organizations to insure that that up to date and provide the most protection possible. They can also assist resolve matters quickly and effectively.