Former Florida AD mum about Zach Smith’s arrest in 2009

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By Mark Long, AP Sports Writer

Former Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley is declining to say what, if anything, coach Urban Meyer told him about Zach Smith’s domestic violence arrest in 2009.

Meyer was placed on paid leave last week by Ohio Stateamid questions about what he knew and did about accusations of abuse made against Smith. The former Buckeyes assistant coach was fired July 24 after his ex-wife sought a restraining order against him. The couple divorced in 2016.

The Associated Press asked the Gators to provide details regarding how Meyer and his bosses handled Smith’s arrest nearly a decade ago, but Foley declined comment Friday through a university spokesman. Foley is currently Florida’s emeritus AD.

Meyer released a statement last week saying he has “always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels.” It raised questions about what Florida officials, specifically Foley, knew and how they reacted to Smith’s arrest on June 21, 2009.

Boston College and Marshall previously commented about what they knew before hiring Smith.

Florida, though, is choosing to remain quiet.

Smith was arrested in 2009 on a charge of aggravated battery on a pregnant woman, his wife. He was graduate assistant on Meyer’s staff at the time.

According to a Gainesville Police Department report, Zach and Courtney Smith got into a verbal altercation over infidelity around 3 a.m. when Zach brought a female co-worker home following a party.

The report states that Zach pleaded with his wife to let the woman spend the night. Courtney Smith ended up taking the woman home and got into a heated argument with Zach upon her return home. Zach refused to leave the couple’s bed, the report said.

Zach grabbed his wife “by her T-shirt, picked her up and threw her into the bedroom wall,” according to the report. Courtney Smith was 8-10 weeks pregnant.

Zach denied throwing his wife or any form of physical violence. The victim’s shirt had visible signs that it had been stretched from the incident, police said, and the defendant had visible redness on his right bicep.

Zach, who was in his fourth year on Meyer’s staff at Florida, was handcuffed and booked into the Alachua County Jail.

Ohio State has formed a trustees committee to coordinate the investigation and hired a firm to conduct the probe of Meyer.

Smith has never been criminally charged or convicted.

Meyer initially told reporters at Big Ten Media Days on July 25 that he didn’t know anything about abuse allegations made by Courtney Smith in October 2015. Meyer later acknowledged he knew about the 2015 incidents and insisted he followed proper protocol. He also said he lied to reporters about it.

What Meyer knew and when he knew it became a question after college football writer Brett McMurphy reported that Courtney Smith had told Meyer’s wife Shelley about the 2015 incidents and shared pictures of injuries through text messages that she shared with McMurphy.

Smith denied assaulting his wife and said any physical injuries she might have suffered were the result of him defending himself. He said he discussed the 2015 allegations at the time with Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith.

49 COMMENTS

  1. Foley’s silence says it all. And Foley’s judgment and evaluation skills has taken a major legacy hit since he retired as the Florida AD for sure.

    • I agree. I tried to comment earlier but something was up???

      I am and have always been a big defender and advocate of Jeremy Foley. I think he was a GREAT AD. However, if it turns out he and the university knew about Zach’s arrest then things change. “No Comment” is not an acceptable response. I feel like I felt when the accusations came out against Lance Armstrong (doping) and Bill Cosby, hoping in heck that it is not true but having a sinking feeling in my gut. If it comes to pass that Foley was complicit, well I think 25 years of good and excellent leadership is flushed for one bad judgement. I hope it is not true but in the end, Foley needs to talk.

      • I hope to God that is not true. It is not exactly cheating but I would like to think it still goes against Foley’s zero tolerance of shadiness policy. I would also like to thank that the vast majority of people would be non-compromising about domestic violence no matter what is that stake.

        • TJ hope UF isn’t involved. If Foley wasn’t told and Meyer knew it’s on Meyer. While this is old having staff that beat up their wives is contrary to what they are supposed to be teaching. Should have reported it, got him help. Then if happened again boot.

      • We need to stay out of it. Let OSU worry about it. Nothing to gain. There are a lot of legal issues and Title X1 involved. Foley is very smart here.

  2. …”have taken”… in my above post. Editing a post and not proofreading it afterward can cause “judgement and evaluation skill” errors.

    • It’s “judgment” (no “e”). More proofreading, while we are on the subject. Just playing with you, man, this is no biggie.

    • I don’t understand the people who attack Foley and his legacy. Yes, he made two bad football hires (and A LOT of other ADs would have hired Champ) but he also made one great one that resulted in two national championships. Plus, he left the UF athletics department as one of the best, if not the best, programs in the country. I grade the man on the entirety of the program as a whole, not just football.

      With that being said, I wish in lieu of “no comment” there was a “no comment and here’s why”. And 6, I agree that’s the part that makes it seem a little stinky. But to say his legacy has taken a major hit seems to me like, in the words of Andy Bernard, “that was a bit of an over-reaction”. To me, until some evidence that comes out (like Foley’s wife knowing about things) proving Foley made some poor decisions…”relaaaaaaaaaaaaaax”. And bash my grammar if you wish, there’s a reason I majored in Construction Management.

      • I agree with you. I think it would be wrong for Foley to say anything to the press! He only needs to talk to the investigation in Ohio if they seek it and maybe not even then. In this day of everyone hanging their every move out there in social media for the world to see, People think they have a right to know everything, they dont, we dont! In fact what happened 9 years ago at UF is irrelevant to any decision about Urban and this incident at OhSt. He should only have to answer for his actions while being employed by them, period! What he did or didnt do at Florida is irrelevant to what he did or didnt do as an employee of OhSt..
        Foley’s image hasnt changed to fair minded people and he did a heck of a job as AD, everyone has some failures at anything they do, it’s the job as a whole that is judged!

      • Believe it or not Dallas, my comment that “this stinks”, while certainly ambiguous in retrospect, was meant only to signify that I’m already sick and tired of this stinking mess and more than ready to get on with the 2018 college football season. No aspersions cast at Foley, despite being a shallow way to say I’m tired of this mess, which of course TampaGator has already pointed out.

        Wanna split the gas for a quick trip to Gainesville and back, finding a way to sneak into fall camp? (Hey 65, this is where I could use that little smiley face icon!)

  3. Smart thinking on Foley’s part not to comment on the question. Meyer would have been smart to do the same thing and imply that there are legal issues involved in this.

  4. the no-comment for an ongoing investigation is a legit thing, but the fact that it clarifies absolutely nothing does not make it sound any better.

  5. Here’s my issue with Foley. If he were completely retired, fine, do a no comment thing. However, he is emeritus AD, so he is still representing UF. Give a comment. He knew that this was going to come up. Personally, I think that he needs to give up the title of emeritus AD. It’s just an ego thing to maintain the title and he gets off on thinking that he still has his thumb over the athletic program. Pretentious jerk. People defend him and say look at the overall athletic program. How do these idiots think we got so good in all the other sports? It was from the cash cow football program, which he allowed to implode on his watch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to see the minor sports doing well and winning SEC Titles. However, as a football fan, I would trade 10 SEC titles in golf, tennis, soccer, badminton, etc for 1 Football title. In today’s PC world, that isn’t necessarily the proper thing to say, but it’s the truth.

    • How about baseball, basketball, softball and gymnastics to that list!
      I could NOT disagree with you more; now we judge our sports success solely on how much money they rake in? So that totally leaves all womens sports out of that! That sounds very sexist of you! Very discriminatory! So all you care about is the male sport of football while over half the students attending UF are female! If it werent for the female sports we wouldnt be any where near the top in the nation for NC’s and wouldnt be winning the SEC All Sports trophy every year for the last 12 years and 28 times since 1991-92 season; 16th times they’ve taken all three titles – overall, men and women. UF is the ONLY school to collect ALL three titles in a single season. 40 NC’s since 1968. 308 individual National titles. 248 conference team titles. Only 3 football NC’s and 8 conference team titles. So none of UF’s greatness is possible without all those “MINOR” sports! So put that in your pipe and smoke it!

  6. Daz, chill out a bit and don’t let others get you that angry, it’s bad for the health. I don’t think he was putting down women just stressing the importance of winning in football. It trumps all other sports in terms of revenue and fan support and most fans gauge a program on how good the football team is, not how great our softball and gymnastics teams are which by the way are one of the best. Anyways, does it seem weird that DJ Durkin is now under investigation for player abuse and he was one of Meyers boys from back in the day at Bowling Green and here at UF. This isn’t just a coincidence that now a second coach is being accused of abuse from the same coaching tree.

    • Not angry, not even close, just annoyed at the shortsightedness. As the numbers show, football is a drop in the bucket compared to all our titles. We rank #2 in the nation in championships and win at least 1 every year, 2 years ago we won 5. Do these guys really want to be just a football school? The schools thought of as great in the nation are great at many sports, thats what allows them to draw from a wide and diverse pool of student athletes. People want to attend great schools with winning traditions, you dont get nearly as big a pool of football athletes to chose from if all you are is a football school. These guys attitude shoots themselves in the foot!

      • Good point. During Foley’s tenure as AD, Gators won 25 national titles. Not too bad. And remember Title 9: you got to give both men and women a sport to play.

      • Yes I want to be a football basketball baseball school.. yes yes yes. We are now just a soft white school such as Stanford and Vandy.
        This all sports crap is meaningless.Goffy ass women sports and country club sports. Hell we better be good at that in this state.

        • This new is like relatives who come for the weekend and stay a month. After 3 days, they start to smell like fish and stink up the joint.
          ]
          Agree but if you want those matching federal funds, you have to supply a female equivalet of a men’s tean.

      • Yes, I just want to be a football school. There is a reason why newspapers cover football so much- because that is what most people care about and want to see. I’m happy for there to be women’s sports so that they can enjoy themselves, but I couldn’t care less how well we do in them.

  7. In through the nose, out through the mouth. All sports are important, and football will be king through most of our lifetimes. Unfortunately we only get it for 4 months and there are 12 months in a year. I for one can watch the Gators play any sport and get real excited. In the same breath, it takes me much longer to get over a football loss than any of the others. As for Foley, he did an excellent job of hiring coaches with the exception of football. Machen had more to do with hiring Meyer than Foley did.

  8. Why would anybody comment of something that long ago, and of course there should be some written documentation. This has nothing to do with UF. NOTHING!!

  9. an offseason theme is the risk of certain players, where you get police reports, and perhaps worse. identifying risks and avoiding them if possible, managing them if not is important for this program imo, and progress is slow. now we see that even coaches, such as durkin, brown, and meyer do have some risks, even if they are innocent. that is the lesson; foley gets a pass on meyer and his tree since the university president did the hire. so the risk comes from above to be fair.
    for me, you cant eliminate risk, but you have to be diligent in avoiding it, managing it, and in the worst case, removing it and keeping it away. that’s the breakdown, somewhere we couldn’t see past one level once coach spurrier moved on, and going forward the world is moving beyond that and we need to get back in the lead in that category again.

  10. MSBS, where are you on this? Your comment could be the most defining and enlightening.

    B t w, ease up on Jeremy Kennedy, I mean Foley!
    Never forget that he brought us Mike White.

  11. The headline says Foley was Mum, but maybe he was just MUM-bling. If you ever heard him mumbling through interviews on Larry Vettel’s old show, mumbling was pretty much his only form of speech. He probably mumbled something about being too busy designing cute new helmets to be bothered with anything else at the time.

  12. So tell me this- if an employee is accused of a crime but denies it, do you fire the employee before a trial and conviction? What if the employee didn’t do it? How does anyone know until the criminal justice system makes the determination? Domestic abuse is an outrage, but there are vindictive and crazy women out there who make false accusations.

    If Myer tried to cover it up while at Florida, and took some sort of inappropriate action, then he is really stupid. The guy was just a graduate assistant, not a vital star player or high level coach. But if it was a “he said/she said” situation, then what choice does anyone have but to let the justice system figure it out?

    • Good summation. I think the thing that has people thinking there’s more to this is Meyers ties to Smith’s family. That he may have covered due to family loyalty.

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