Smith defends Meyer

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Last updated: 04/12/2012 6:53 PM

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Football
Gene Smith Issues Statement Concerning Meyer, SN Article
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gene Smith came to the defense of his football coach Wednesday for the second time since Urban Meyer was hired in November.

It was only two months ago that Ohio State’s director of athletics was defending Meyer’s recruiting tactics against allegations from Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema.

Now Smith felt the need to defend Meyer from accusations made in a recent Sporting News article that questioned the way Meyer ran his program at Florida and whether he tried to sabotage the Gators in their recruitment of wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

“Since his arrival, Coach Meyer has demonstrated the values that are essential to his role as educator and coach within our athletics program,” Smith said in a statement Wednesday evening.

“He has fostered the strong compliance culture that we expect and I have been pleased with his commitment to academics and personal development of our student athletes.”

Meyer addressed the allegations made in the Sporting News article during his appearance on the BIG Spring Football Teleconference on Wednesday , saying there was no NCAA violation committed by his staff in the recruitment of Kyle Dodson, or any other player.

“Any time you mention the NCAA…there is no violation,” Meyer said again.

“I’m going to say this really clear there is no violation. I’m not sure why that keeps coming up. So bold that for me and underline it. There is not one turned in (to the NCAA), and there’s a pretty good track record there as far as compliance with the NCAA.”

The controversy surrounding Meyer arose in February after Ohio State signed a number of players who had previously been committed elsewhere. That included a handful of Penn State verbal commitments, along with defensive end Se’Von Pittman—who had been committed to Michigan State—and Dodson.

The offensive tackle out of Cleveland Heights was verbally pledged to play for Bielema in Madison before Meyer took the job. Bielema took exception to Meyer’s tactics, possibly going as far as to accuse him of violating NCAA rules by intentionally “unintentionally” bumping into Dodson during a recruiting dead period.

Meyer echoed his earlier sentiments following practice Wednesday, saying he was trying to stay focused on his current team while having to worry about allegations that seem to have popped out of nowhere this spring.

“Was there some scandal going on,” Meyer asked rhetorically.

“I don't understand. I'm going to stay away from all that.”

Meyer is in his first spring at Ohio State, a school that is all too familiar with scandal following the forced resignation of Jim Tressel almost a year ago. The program is just now getting back on its feet after a 6-7 season under interim head coach Luke Fickell, but Meyer realizes the spotlight comes with the territory in today’s world of big-time college football.

“This place is like Florida, like Texas, like USC — you're in a fishbowl,” Meyer said.

“You better make sure all your t's are crossed and i's are dotted. We do a pretty good job, and we've always done a pretty good job.”

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