The Urban Meyer saga seems to have reached its end with the coach returning to the team this week. It’s time to look back on our initial analysis of the situation and compare it to that of The Ohio State Investigative Board’s published findings.
First, and most perplexing, “[t]he investigation [did] not discover evidence in connection with Zach Smith’s alleged commission of domestic violence suggesting any Title IX violation.”1 ??? Ohio State’s Title IX definition explicitly includes “domestic violence.”2 In light of the explicit definition, how the Board summarily decided that Title IX was not implicated is beyond me. They seem to say that because the Title IX Coordinator was initially in the loop, it negated the reporting requirement for Meyer. This would make logical sense, if the report did not also say on the same page:
Reporting requirements are intended to be both broad and redundant – in the case of Coach Meyer, they require reporting (in writing) to two places (to the AD and to Athletic Compliance) and the obligation to report is placed on each individual, an obligation not relieved by the knowledge or reporting by another individual.3
I cannot reconcile these two conflicting statements from the Board.
That being said, those who read my first blog post on the subject will recall that while I felt that the Title IX clause was implicated, I also believed that Coach Meyer had a text-based defense. However, it appears that the crucial language cited in my earlier post, “in connection with a university sponsored activity or event,” was disregarded by the Board. I felt that this language may have been dispositive in favor of Meyer, but the Board did not address it at all.
Instead, the focus was largely on whether Meyer’s duty to report was only triggered upon law enforcement involvement. It was not, and the Board found that Coach Meyer had a duty to report any “potential violation” to the University.4 This broad construction of the duty to report is common among Title IX Policies.
If you have reached the end of this post scratching your head, you are not alone. Title IX policy is complicated and controversial enough as written. When its “fifteen minutes of fame” via the Urban Meyer saga is subject to such muddled analysis, it does nothing to inform the public or to provide a consistent message. The use of an ad-hoc board that was not trained in Title IX policy or its application undoubtedly contributed to this result.