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645 words

Ken Reed.901.

That’s Urban Meyer’s winning percentage at Ohio State.

It’s also the only reason he’s still the head football coach at Ohio State today.

After protecting – and covering up for – despicable assistant coach Zach Smith – and lying about it – Ohio State’s board of trustees gave Meyer a three-game suspension (and for two of those games, he can coach during the week, just not on game day).

Are you serious?

Meyer did virtually everything wrong in this approximately decade-long situation, except, of course, continue to win on the gridiron.

I’m sick of WAAC (win-at-all-costs) and PAAC (profits-at-all-costs) ethos running big-time college sports. The hypocrisy of it all – higher education, student athletes, etc. – is sickening.

Urban Meyer, educator? Urban Meyer, builder of young men? A complete joke on both counts.

A true educator would’ve used the Smith situation to teach his team about respecting women and treating them properly, along with not driving drunk, not ordering sex toys to be delivered to your place of employment, not taking photos of yourself receiving oral sex and having sex with an Ohio State staffer in the Buckeyes coaches’ offices, not sharing photos of your genitalia from the White House, etc.

That’s the short list. With Smith, it’s a much longer list of indiscretions (a term that’s too mild for many of the actions of this immature, sick human being).

Meyer reportedly often talks to his team about the importance of character and education. He’s written a book on leadership. (The chapter on covering up problems in your organization must not have made the final draft.)

Well, Meyer certainly could have used this ugly situation involving an assistant coach as an educational opportunity with his team. Instead he protected this loose cannon and tried to cover up the mess afterwards by, among other things, trying to get rid of incriminating texts on his phone.

On top of all this, Ohio State’s investigative report on this case found that Meyer lied multiple times when queried about Smith. 

When all the Smith stuff was coming to light, thanks to good reporting, Meyer’s concern was not with Smith’s wife, Courtney, the target of much of Smith’s bad behaviour, it was with himself and his predicament. At the press conference announcing his suspension, Meyer didn’t even apologize to Courtney Smith for his handling of the situation involving her now ex-husband.

If it wasn’t all about winning, and if The Ohio State University had any scruples or integrity, both Meyer and OSU athletic director Gene Smith should’ve been fired on Wednesday night. (According to protocol, Gene Smith failed to communicate what he knew about the Zach Smith situation to the proper people when he should have.)

Joe Ehrmann, former NFL player and current co-founder of the InsideOut Initiative, a non-profit working to change the win-at-all-costs coaching culture, describes true success this way in the book Season of Life:

“It’s gonna come down to this: What kind of father were you? What kind of husband were you? What kind of coach or teammate were you? What kind of son were you? What kind of brother were you? What kind of friend were you? Success comes in terms of relationships. Success is measured by the impact you make on other people’s lives. … Life’s about relationships and having a cause bigger than yourself. Simple as that.”

Now that’s an educator. That’s a builder of men.

The Ohio State University decided to retain Meyer, but in the process the school’s leadership acted dishonourably, sold their souls and sullied their reputation.

That’s why today, The Ohio State University can be described with one word: Disgrace. 

But they kept their .901. …

Ken Reed is sports policy director for League of Fans (leagueoffans.org), a sports reform project. He is the author of Ego vs. Soul in Sports and How We Can Save Sports.  His newest book is The Sports Reformers.

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