Ohio State’s decision to place Urban Meyer on administrative leave did little to quiet the debate surrounding whether he will coach another game with the Buckeyes.
If Davis is right, then attorneys for both Meyer and OSU are likely looking over the terms of his contract. USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz has identified two key items in Meyer’s contract that could ultimately decide how it plays out.
In March, Meyer agreed to an extension through the 2022 season, which the school announced in April. It included a new provision:
To the section covering Meyer’s specific duties and responsibilities, a provision was added that reads in part: “Coach shall promptly report to Ohio State’s Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics any known violations of Ohio State’s Sexual Misconduct Policy (including, but not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, intimate violence and stalking) that involve any student, faculty, or staff that is in connection with a university sponsored activity or event.”
For the purposes of this provision, the contract states, “a ‘known violation’ shall mean a violation or an allegation of a violation of Title IX that Coach is aware of or has reasonable cause to believe is taking place or may have taken place.”
The extension also included new provisions about OSU firing Meyer for cause.
To the section covering reasons for termination for cause, a provision was added that states Meyer’s contract can be terminated if he fails to promptly report to the university’s deputy Title IX coordinator-athletics or the university’s Title IX coordinator “any known violations of Ohio State’s Sexual Misconduct Policy (including, but not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, intimate violence and stalking) that involve any student, faculty, or staff that is in connection with a university sponsored activity or event.”
This new provision also states that: “It is recognized that this subsection” pertaining to grounds under which Meyer can be terminated for cause “encompasses findings or determinations of violations during employment of Coach at Ohio State or any other institution of higher learning.”
If OSU fires Meyer for cause, that’s $38.1 million the school would not have to pay him. The prospects of a potential court battle over the application of the provisions and firing for cause could lead to a settlement between the two parties.
Meyer and OSU are in this situation because a report by Brett McMurphy shows that Courtney Smith, ex-wife of former assistant Zach Smith, contacted Shelley Meyer about her ex-husband’s domestic abuse. Smith was fired on July 24, a day before Big Ten Media Days.
At Big Ten Media Days, Meyer said there was nothing to an earlier report by McMurphy of domestic violence involving the couple in 2015. McMurphy fired back that his information had come from police reports. On Wednesday, a new report showed photos of the alleged abuse and texts from Courtney Smith. She also told Stadium that she believed Urban Meyer was aware of the 2015 incidents which led to the couple’s split the following year.