COLUMBUS, Ohio — A big part of Urban Meyer’s future as coach at Ohio State could hinge on a possible Title IX violation.
The law is designed to prevent discrimination and violence against students. Also, the university’s own policy states employees must report cases of domestic assault. However, ABC6 spoke with two separate legal experts about these issues. They both said the same thing: As a matter of law, it does not appear the university has cause to fire the coach.
The ABC 6 investigative team spent hours pouring over documents, from Urban Meyer’s contract, to university policy and reviewing Title IX guide lines. We also got insight from attorneys like Douglas Funkhouser.
“There’s a lot of moving parts here and it’s pretty early to say what’s going to happen,” said Funkhouser.
Legal analysts like Sonia Walker admit, it is a lot to sort out.
“They’re very difficult cases,” Walker told ABC 6.
School policy encourages everyone with knowledge of a possible domestic situation to report it. Some attorneys question if Meyer’s contract would require him to go back and retroactively report the 2015 incident between former coach Zach Smith and his wife, an incident Meyer denies any knowledge of.
“It seems like there’s an awful lot of traps in the way the language is written. ‘May have taken place’ seems awful broad to me,” said Funkhouser.
Then, there’s the thought of a possible Title IX violation. Walker specializes in cases of discrimination and assault on the university level. She believes this case doesn’t fit the bill.
“Again, you have to have a deprivation of an educational opportunity that was caused by severe pervasive harassment or discrimination. And then you have to show the university knew and the university failed to respond,” said Walker.
Legal analysts that spoke with ABC 6 agree that Urban Meyer could win in a legal fight against the university if it fires him. If it ever comes to that. Some legal experts believe during this current administrative leave, Meyer and the university could also be currently looking into a financial buyout.