Monday's college football: Ohio State set to discuss Urban Meyer

Associated Press

Columbus, Ohio — Ohio State trustees set a private meeting for Wednesday to talk about the future of coach Urban Meyer as the university seeks to quickly move past a scandal that has consumed the football program for nearly a month.

Meyer has been the subject of an investigation into the handling of domestic-abuse allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith.

The university said factfinders briefed the board on Monday. The panel will convene in a public session on Wednesday morning before going behind closed doors to discuss the next steps. President Michael V. Drake will have the final say on whether Meyer keeps his job or faces other consequences.

“(Monday’s) briefing is to ensure that board members are adequately prepared to discuss this matter at Wednesday’s meeting,” Ohio State spokeswoman Emily Caldwell said Monday in an email.

No timetable was given for final resolution of the matter, which has overshadowed the team’s preparation for the 2018 season that begins at home Sept. 1.

The trustees hired an outside law firm for $500,000 to do the investigation, which took two weeks.

The investigation centers on what Meyer knew and did about allegations of abuse against Smith, who was fired July 23 after his wife sought a protective order. Smith hasn’t been charged or convicted of abuse, but his ex-wife Courtney Smith alleged her husband shoved her against a wall and put his hands around her neck in 2015.

Meyer has said he handled the accusations properly when he found out about them, but acknowledged he lied to reporters at first when he said he hadn’t heard of the incident. Ohio State put Meyer under investigation after Courtney Smith went public, giving a reporter text messages and pictures she traded with Meyer’s wife, Shelley Meyer, in 2015.

Drake, the Ohio State president, is rarely in the public spotlight, unlike his predecessor, Gordon Gee, who prided himself on his reputation as a fast-talking, ubiquitous, and sports-loving Ohio State fanatic.

Drake surprised Ohio State fans in 2014 when he fired the school’s marching band director after an investigation uncovered band traditions and rituals that were racy, raunchy or suggestive.

The band director, Jonathan Waters, said he had been trying to change many of the activities before he was terminated, but Drake stood his ground despite intense criticism over the firing. He and the university insisted that Waters controlled the band at the time of the probe and was answerable for all of its practices, even those that evolved out of old traditions.

Badger charged

Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus was charged with felony sexual assault on Monday, accused of misconduct involving two women at his apartment last April.

Cephus, a 20-year-old junior from Macon, Georgia, was suspended by the team shortly after he was charged with third-degree sexual assault and second-degree sex assault of an intoxicated victim. The charges were filed by the Dane County district attorney and Madison police said Cephus is accused of assaulting the two women on April 22.

Cephus said he was taking a leave of absence from the team on Saturday, posting a tweet that he believed prosecutors intended to file criminal charges against him stemming from an incident in April involving what he called a “consensual relationship.”

Cephus didn’t specify what he is accused of but denied any wrongdoing and said he has been wrongfully accused.

Madison police said they interviewed a woman at an emergency room on April 22 who said she was the victim of a sexual assault at Cephus’ apartment. Police said Cephus was cooperative after they contacted him.

Authorities said they learned early in the investigation that a second woman was also in the apartment that same day, and she said she was also the victim of sexual assault.

According to the criminal complaint, Cephus told police he did have sex with one of the women but said “It was all good. She was all into it.” Cephus also told police he and the second woman had sex and that he and both women were “all in my room together.”

Cephus is due to make his first court appearance on Thursday.

“I am now forced to take a leave of absence from the team in order to focus all of my attention on clearing my name,” Cephus wrote on Twitter. “I look forward to resuming both my academic and athletic careers in the near future.”

Coach Paul Chryst has said he spoke to Cephus before the junior released his statement but declined comment otherwise.

Gophers name starting QB

Minnesota tabbed true freshman walk-on Zack Annexstad starting quarterback to open the season.

Gophers coach P.J. Fleck announced after practice that Annexstad will be behind center on Aug. 30 against New Mexico State. Fleck said he’s not planning a rotation between Annexstad and redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan, but the coach said he expects Morgan to play this season.

McNair honored

Maryland players will wear a helmet sticker with No. 79 to honor former teammate Jordan McNair, who collapsed during a practice session in May and subsequently died.