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Legal Expert Explains What Urban Meyer's Letter Means

A closeup of Urban Meyer clapping before an Ohio State football game.

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 14: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 14, 2017 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

After being put on administrative leave during the week, Urban Meyer released a statement on Friday, in the former of a letter to the Ohio State community.

In it, Meyer admits that he lied at Big Ten Media Days, when he said that he was unaware of the 2015 allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith.

He did, however, say that he took the appropriate steps when he became aware of the alleged domestic abuse.

It is still up in the air whether Urban Meyer will be fired, but his letter was designed to make sure he gets all of his money if he is.

Sports Illustratedlegal analyst Michael McCann broke down the significance of the language used in Meyer's statement.

Basically, he (and likely, his lawyers) crafted it to make sure he does not admit to anything that could help Ohio State's argument to fire him for cause.

These assertions are important for at least a couple of reasons. First, Meyer marks his legal turf with the university. His statement communicates to Ohio State administrators and the Ohio State Board of Trustees that the university lacks the necessary grounds to fire him for cause. As I explained in a piece published on Wednesday, those grounds entail (among other things) Meyer lying to his superiors, Meyer violating university policies related to reporting and sexual misconduct and Meyer failing to adequately notify the university about alleged misconduct by employees who report to him.

By expressing that he did, in fact, provide sufficient reporting, Meyer is letting Ohio State know that if the school fires him with cause (meaning he’d lose out on the $38 million-plus remaining on a deal that runs through 2023), he’ll sue the school for breach of contract. In any lawsuit, Meyer would contend that the university lacks actionable grounds under the terms of the employment contract to dismiss him with cause. His letter is a preview of that argument.

McCann goes on to explain another key portion of this: it drags in Ohio State administrators, including athletic director Gene Smith, in a big way.

If Meyer does go down for what happened over the last few weeks, expect a legal battle between he and Ohio State to ensue.

[Sports Illustrated]