COLUMBUS, Ohio — The results of a two-week investigation into how Ohio State’s football coach, Urban Meyer, handled domestic violence allegations against a longtime assistant coach will be presented to the university’s board of trustees on Wednesday, the university announced.
Meyer, 54, one of the most accomplished and best-paid college football coaches in the country, has been on paid administrative leave since Aug. 1 after news reports indicated that he had been aware of domestic violence allegations against a former assistant coach, Zach Smith, since late 2015, when the accusations were made, and possibly years earlier. Meyer fired Smith in July, two months after he was charged with criminal trespassing at his ex-wife’s house, and days after she sought an order of protection against Smith.
Further reports documented that Smith had been investigated but not prosecuted for domestic abuse in 2009, when he was a member of Meyer’s coaching staff at the University of Florida.
Meyer defended his actions in a statement released two days after he was placed on leave. In it, he acknowledged that he had known about the accusations against Smith from years earlier — contradicting his initial public denial — and said he had always “followed proper reporting protocols and procedures” in dealing with them.
Smith has denied ever abusing his ex-wife, Courtney Smith. Both are known to have met with the university’s investigators.
Zach Smith is a grandson of Earle Bruce, a former Ohio State head coach who had been a mentor to Meyer before he died earlier this year. Smith has been on nearly every one of Meyer’s staffs since 2005, when Meyer joined Florida.
Ohio State’s 20-member board was to receive an oral briefing on the findings of the Meyer investigation Monday, the university said in a statement, “to ensure that board members are adequately prepared to discuss this matter at Wednesday’s meeting.” The university’s president, Michael V. Drake, will make a decision on any punishment for Meyer after Wednesday’s board meeting.
The inquiry has been led by a six-member working group comprising three trustees and three independent members. The group hired an outside law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton, and one of its partners, the former United States Attorney Mary Jo White, to conduct the investigation.
Ohio State’s athletic department is also dealing with the university’s revelation last month that more than 100 former students had accused a former team doctor, Richard H. Strauss, who died in 2005, of sexually abusing them, as well as a lawsuit alleging that a former assistant diving coach had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 16-year-old diver several years ago.