Ohio State fires assistant Hamm
Olympic champion had been with Buckeyes since June
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State has fired Olympic champion Paul Hamm following his arrest on assault charges.
The termination is effective immediately, athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement Friday. Hamm had been an assistant gymnastics coach at Ohio State since June.
“We have high standards for our coaching staff and unfortunately Mr. Hamm failed to meet those standards,” Smith said.
Hamm, 28, has not made any public statement since his arrest. But in a note sent to the Ohio State team, he said he hopes the Buckeyes have a “great year and wonderful experience at OSU.”
“I truly want the team to succeed and nothing would make me happier than to see OSU back on top,” Hamm wrote. “I will be following your individual progress and I intend to communicate with you all in the near future.”
The dismissal means Hamm will be looking for a new place to train, as well. The only American man to win the Olympic (2004) and world (2003) all-around titles, Hamm announced a comeback last summer in hopes of making the U.S. team for the 2012 Games in London. He is recuperating from January shoulder surgery, but is expected to return to competition in February in what would be a boost for the U.S. men’s medal hopes.
Hamm led the U.S. men to a silver medal in Athens, their best finish at a non-boycotted Olympics since 1932.
Hamm was charged Saturday with assault and two other misdemeanors, accused of hitting and kicking a taxi driver in suburban Columbus, damaging a cab window and refusing to pay a $23 fare. He is free on bond pending a Thursday arraignment.
“We will fight the criminal charges vigorously,” said Michael J. Smith, Hamm’s attorney.
In a video of Hamm’s arrest, an Upper Arlington police officer says Hamm damaged the cab window as he climbed out after unintentionally locking the door. Hamm also punched the cab driver in the lip and kicked him in the back of the leg, an officer says.
As Hamm sat handcuffed in the back of a cruiser, he asked officers to let him go, saying, “I don’t understand. I’m gonna kill you guys.” He can also be heard telling officers he’d had about eight drinks.