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Urban Meyer probe shows the days of sports ignoring domestic abuse are over

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For years larger-than-life coaches like Meyer could operate without oversight or interference, but society has evolved and sports have caught up

For years, the two most powerful coaches in college football have been Alabama’s Nick Saban and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer. Combined, their teams have won nine of the last 15 national championships. They are giants in a sport where coaches are already exalted to mythical proportions, the highest-paid public employees in their states, their word greater and more important than even the presidents of their schools.

So the fact that Ohio State put Meyer on administrative leave this week, pending an investigation into what Meyer knew about an assistant coach’s history of domestic abuse, shocked many. Meyer, it always seemed, was larger than any law at his schools. Officials at the University of Florida, where he won two of his three national titles, didn’t appear to care about more than 30 arrests of his players there, including one who texted “Time to die bitch”, to his girlfriend. Leaders at Ohio State looked the other way when he hired Zach Smith, the assistant coach accused of domestic violence, this after Smith had been arrested for pushing his pregnant wife into a wall back in 2009.

Related: Ohio State's Urban Meyer could face termination over assistant abuse claims

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