COLUMBUS (AP) — A contract extension given to Ohio State coach Urban Meyer in March could provide grounds for the university to fire him over the handling of a longtime assistant accused of domestic violence.
The extension signed March 27 added a requirement to Meyer’s contract that he immediately report any “known violations” of Ohio State’s sexual misconduct policy. The contract lists “intimate violence and stalking” as violations.
Meyer is on administrative leave while Ohio State investigates claims that Meyer’s wife knew about 2015 allegations of abuse against former Buckeyes assistant Zach Smith, who was fired last week.
Meyer previously told reporters last week that he was never told anything about the incident that resulted in injuries to Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney.
The extension also increased Meyer’s salary to $7.6 million for 2018, an $800,000 raise over what he was scheduled to earn.
Smith was set to make $340,000 in 2018 before his firing, a $40,000 increase from his salary for the 2017 season.
Meyer’s base contract also spells out Meyer’s responsibilities when dealing with violations of laws and university rules by assistant coaches.
According to Meyer’s employment agreement, Meyer is responsible for reporting to the Athletic Director and compliance office if any person, including assistant coaches, under his supervision has violated state, local or federal laws, as well as university rules.
d) Know, recognize and comply with all federal, state and local laws, as well as all applicable University Rules and Governing Athletic Rules, in accordance with NCAA Bylaw 1 1 .1 .2.1 , promote an atmosphere for compliance within the football program supervised by Coach and monitor the activities regarding compliance of all assistant coaches and other administrators involved with the program who report directly or indirectly to Coach; supervise and take appropriate steps in an effort to ensure that Coach’s assistant coaches, any other employees for whom Coach is administratively responsible and the members of the Team know, recognize and comply with all such laws, University Rules and Governing Athletic Rules; and immediately report to the Director and to the Department’s Office of Compliance Services in writing if any person or entity, including without limitation, representatives of Ohio State’s athletic interests, has violated or is likely to violate or may potentially have violated any such laws, University Rules and Governing Athletic Rules (unless Ohio State has informed Coach that certain minor transgressions do not require written reports to the Director and the Department’s Office of Compliance Services).
Failure to report violations of university rules is an offense that could lead to being fired for cause, according to the contract.
Failure by Coach to report promptly to the Director and to the Office of Compliance Services in writing any violations or potential violations known to Coach of Governing Athletic Rules or University Rules including, but not limited to, those by Coach, the assistant coaches, students or other persons under the direct control or supervision of Coach, as determined by Ohio State
The university’s sexual misconduct policy classifies domestic violence as a form of sexual violence.
The contract also spells out that an occurrence that brings the coach or the university into ‘public disrepute’ is grounds for termination for cause.
Commission of or participation in by Coach of any act, situation, or occurrence which, in Ohio State’s judgment, brings Coach and/or Ohio State into public disrepute, embarrassment, contempt, scandal or ridicule or failure by Coach to conform Coach’s personal conduct to conventional and contemporary standards of good citizenship, with such conduct offending prevailing social mores and values and/or reflecting unfavorably upon Ohio State’s reputation and overall primary mission and objectives, including but not limited to, acts of dishonesty, misrepresentation, fraud or violence that may or may not warrant criminal prosecution by the relevant authorities.
If the university is considering terminating Meyer for cause, the contract says Meyer must be given an opportunity to explain the circumstances, from his point of view, prior to termination. The university must then give written notice of its intention to terminate the agreement.
If the contract is terminated for cause, Meyer would not be eligible to receive any further compensation or benefits from the university.