Former Ohio State trustee Jeffrey Wadsworth told The New York Times that the board’s punishment for Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer didn’t go far enough, a decision that prompted Wadsworth to resign from his post.
Wadsworth, who once chaired Ohio State’s board of trustees, told the newspaper that he was the “lone voice” advocating for a stronger punishment for Meyer, who received a three-game suspension from the board for his handling of issues surrounding former assistant coach Zach Smith.
Wadsworth emailed a resignation letter to university president Michael Drake and board chair Michael Gasser about an hour after suspensions for both Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith were announced on Aug. 22.
“Since I fundamentally disagree with the outcome it would be hypocritical of me to continue as a Trustee,” Wadsworth told Gasser in the resignation letter, which was released by the university on Thursday.
Wadsworth told Gasser he heard enough in the meeting that day that he didn’t want “to be a party, through endorsing today’s decision or remaining on the Board, to implicitly or explicitly support current or future actions on such issues.”
Wadsworth declined to tell the Times what he proposed as punishment for Meyer but said the board’s discussion about reducing a suspension to several games was “wrong.” He left the meeting during the lunch break, telling the Times he was “in a different place” than discussing how many games Meyer should sit out.
“You read the [investigators’] report,” Wadsworth told the Times, “and there’s seven or eight things about emails, memory loss, hearing things five times, and to me, that raised an issue of standards, values — not how many games someone should be suspended for.”
He later added: “I felt that getting into a limited number of games that was a suspension missed the point of a bigger cultural concern about, ‘What message were we sending?'”
Wadsworth said the punishment came across as overly lenient and that he was “embarrassed” by media coverage criticizing Ohio State for coming across as soft on disciplining Meyer.
In a statement Thursday, Ohio State said the trustees and Drake “had a frank and comprehensive discussion last week” and that “a wide variety of perspectives were expressed in reaching a consensus.”
In an email to Wadsworth on Thursday, Gasser said he was proud of the independence of Ohio State’s investigative committee, the work done by a group of nationally recognized outside experts, and “the deliberative nature of our board” finding common ground given a complex set of facts.
“As you know, we are always stronger when individuals representing a range of diverse opinions review a set of facts together in an effort to best serve the university,” Gasser said in the email, released by the university at the request of The Associated Press.
Wadsworth is a retired engineering executive appointed to the board by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. He had a term set to expire in 2019.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.