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Football: Ohio State takes extended time to make decision amid backlash

Ohio State President Michael Drake, Athletic Director Gene Smith and head football coach Urban Meyer field questions during the press conference in which both Meyer and Smith received suspensions. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

Chuck Culpepper of the Washington Post arrived at 8:15 a.m. for what he expected to be an early-afternoon press conference.

Twelve hours later, he was still waiting.

After addressing the media briefly to begin its 9 a.m. meeting, the Board of Trustees quickly reconvened in executive session, which is private and closed to the media.

The meeting lasted nearly 12 hours, with Meyer first appearing at the Longaberger Alumni House around 9:40 a.m., followed by his wife, Shelley, a few hours later and athletic director Gene Smith a few hours after that.

Coming into the meeting on Wednesday without any expectations for a result, Culpepper’s view changed drastically.

“When I arrived this morning, I didn’t expect any wrap-up at all today,” Culpepper said. “Then when they started putting the chairs and when Meyer got here, I thought there might be a fast wrap-up. And then it’s all been guessing since then.”

 

Despite the few moments of major figures walking in and out of the alumni house, the waiting continued, with even a few fans sitting in the parking lot, trying to get an idea of what would happen.

Even with the amount of time that passed, Sporting News writer Bill Bender said the board needed time to deliberate and agree on what they believe is the correct decision regarding Meyer’s fate.

They have to get this right, because it’s not just a decision for Ohio State’s football program or the school,” Bender said. “I think this is a trendsetter for other athletic departments and other big-time schools that are going to go through this in the social media age.”

With all the allegations surrounding Ohio State this summer, from former Ohio State physician Richard Strauss’ sexual assault allegations to the university’s sexual civility and empowerment unit shutting down, university president Michael Drake and the rest of the board needed to make sure the right decision was made regarding Meyer.

Still, Bender said that Ohio State’s busy summer shouldn’t be a major factor in the board’s minds.

“They have to get it right regardless,” Bender said. “Ohio State was bigger than Woody Hayes when he was fired, it was bigger than Jim Tressel when he resigned … this is obviously about more than that.”

Even with a private meeting that took place on Monday and a two-week investigation that concluded on Sunday, the Wednesday executive session dragged on for hours, all with the idea that patience is needed in order to get this decision right.

Still, from the outside, there was much left to be desired with how Ohio State handled Wednesday’s meeting, with no communication being relayed on a timetable for an answer.

Drake and the board used as much time as they needed to get an answer, regardless of the pressures that the media and fans put on them throughout the day.

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