One of the most well-known college football coaches recently found himself in a contentious situation. On August 1, 2018, Ohio State placed Urban Meyer on administrative leave while a two-week investigation took place regarding his knowledge of a domestic violence situation involving his former assistant coach, Zach Smith. According to sources, Meyer knew about domestic violence charges against Smith, yet allowed the assistant coach to remain on the job. Meyer contends that he followed proper reporting protocol.
As with any news story, sources often take different sides. Some sources claim not enough evidence exists to fire Meyer and argue that he did the proper thing, while others believe Meyer should have fired his assistant earlier or taken stronger action. During the investigation, many stories continued to arise, often making it a he said/she said situation in the public eye. This publicity creates ground for arguments and adds to the chaos of a controversial situation. Ultimately, the final decision resulted in a three-game suspension over Meyer’s handling of domestic abuse allegations.
While the investigation ensued and Ohio State fans held their breath in anticipation of the outcome, the integrity of the university was at stake (and may still be). Negative publicity on such an important figure tied to the college reflects on the university as a whole.
Currently, Meyer’s net worth is reportedly $20 million. If the university had decided to fire Urban Meyer, there is potential risk that his value would decline. He could have lost nearly $40 million on his contract with the university. Furthermore, it could be difficult for him to find another position in the same capacity at another university or even in the professional football realm. He would likely lose endorsements. In fact, during the investigation, Bob Evans put its partnership with Meyer on hold. It is not clear whether the franchise will reinstate it now that the verdict is in.
Meyer is not the first coach to face such a circumstance. In 2011, Penn State fired its iconic coach Joe Paterno. Such circumstances do not only affect the coach, but also the university, students, staff, and fans. Therefore, much more is often at stake than just the career of the coach. The actual perception of the university is paramount.