Urban Meyer doubted abuse claims, removed texts

Jan 01, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer during the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the University of Phoenix Stadium. (Photo Credit: Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Ohio State released the 23-page Independent Investigation Summary of Findings from an investigation of coach Urban Meyer’s handling of domestic violence allegations against a former Buckeyes assistant coach Zach Smith. Meyer was suspended for the first three games of the season and will forgo six weeks of pay.

Some notable findings:

_ Urban Meyer and his wife, Shelley, doubted the veracity of Courtney Smith’s allegations of violence and abuse from her ex-husband. Urban Meyer called the Smith situation a “he said she said” last month in a text with a former player.

He also insisted to investigators he met with Courtney Smith after Zach Smith’s 2009 arrest and that she recanted her original story to authorities. Courtney Smith told investigators she never met with Meyer or recanted any allegations.

“Coach Meyer and Shelley Meyer took away from the 2009 events that Courtney Smith was not being entirely truthful when she called 911 to have Zach arrested.”

_ Meyer, athletic director Gene Smith, who was also suspended without pay for two weeks, and others throughout Ohio State thought it wasn’t their place to do anything about allegations against Zach Smith unless law enforcement took more action like making an arrest or filing charges. Investigators called that a widespread misunderstanding of their reporting obligations.

_ Investigators were troubled by the fact that after a media report in which Courtney Smith said she told Shelley Meyer in 2015 that Zach Smith assaulted her, Urban Meyer asked a staffer about deleting text messages more than a year old by changing settings on his phone.

“Our review of Coach Meyer’s phone revealed no messages older than one year,” the report said.

“We cannot determine, however, whether Coach Meyer’s phone was set to retain messages only for one year in response to the August 1st media report or at some earlier time.”

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11:59 p.m.

The investigation into Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s handling of domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant coach identified “a pattern of troubling behavior by Zach Smith: promiscuous and embarrassing sexual behavior, drug abuse, truancy, dishonesty, financial irresponsibility, a possible NCAA violation, and a lengthy police investigation into allegations of criminal domestic violence and cybercrimes.”

Among the issues uncovered, Smith ran about $600 bill at a strip club on a recruiting trip in 2014. Smith brought a high school coach to the club and spent personal funds.

The findings of the investigation were made public late Wednesday night after Meyer was suspended for the first three games of the regular season by the university.

The report said that Zach Smith’s conduct was repeatedly “met with reprimands and warnings by Coach Meyer, but never a written report, never an investigation and no disciplinary action until July 23, 2018.

“While we do not doubt that Coach Meyer respects women and is dedicated to fostering an environment of respect for women in his program, his apparent blind spot for Zach Smith seems to have impaired his judgment and his management of the behavior of at least one of his assistants.”

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11:10 p.m.

Ohio State released dozens of documents related to the investigation of Urban Meyer’s handling of a domestic abuse allegation against a former Buckeyes assistant.

The documents included performance reviews and contracts for Zach Smith, the former wide receivers coach, and Meyer’s contract.

The university also released a 23-page Independent Investigation Summary of Findings.

Meyer was suspended for the first three games of the season and will forgo six weeks of pay. The coach is scheduled to make more than $7 million this year.

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10:09 p.m.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said a July 20 protection order granted to Courtney Smith led to the firing of her ex-husband from the football staff.

Meyer acknowledged he was aware of 2015 abuse allegations against Zach Smith but didn’t decide to fire him until Courtney Smith sought the protection order because she felt her ex-husband was a threat to hurt her.

Meyer said he didn’t know everything about Zach Smith’s situation at home but should have. He said he wished he had done more.

University trustees on Wednesday suspended Meyer for three games for his handling of the allegations against Smith.

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9:40 p.m.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Urban Meyer did not tell him about allegations of domestic abuse against Zach Smith in 2009 when the assistant coach was hired by the Buckeyes in 2012.

Zach Smith was not charged in an incident involving his then-wife Courtney Smith and usual background checks did not reveal the incident, athletic director Gene Smith said.

Meyer also said he did not know about text messages between Courtney Smith and his wife Shelley Meyer. Smith shared text messages and pictures with a reporter that showed she told Shelley Meyer about physical abuse by Zach Smith in 2015.

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9:20 p.m.

Ohio State’s investigation into Urban Meyer handled domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant coach concluded the head coach and athletic director Gene Smith neither condoned nor covered up the alleged actions by Zach Smith. But, the investigation report summary said, Meyer and Smith, failed to take sufficient management action relating to Zach Smith’s misconduct and retained an Assistant Coach who was not performing as an appropriate role model for OSU student-athletes.

“I want to apologize to Buckeye Nation,” Meyer said. “I followed my heart and not my head.”

Meyer is suspended for the first three games of the season against Oregon State, Rutgers, and No. 16 TCU.

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9:06 p.m.

Ohio State has suspended head football coach Urban Meyer for three games for failing to take sufficient management action relating to former assistant coach Zach Smith’s misconduct.

Ohio State announced the decision Wednesday night after an investigation into his handling of accusations of domestic violence made against Zach Smith, a longtime assistant coach.

Smith was accused by his ex-wife, Courtney Smith of physical abuse. Zach Smith was fired last month after she asked a judge for a protective order.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith was also suspended from Aug. 31-Sept. 16.

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8:50 p.m.

Ohio State has called a news conference for 8:50 p.m. with university president Michael V. Drake, athletic director Gene Smith, the head of the group that did the investigation of coach Urban Meyer, and Meyer himself.

The school’s board of trustees has been in executive session since 9 a.m.

The board was meeting to consider whether Meyer should be punished for his handling of domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant coach that was raised by the assistant coach’s now ex-wife.

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5:25 p.m.

The Ohio State University athletic director has arrived at the campus building where trustees are meeting to determine the fate of football coach Urban Meyer.

Gene Smith entered Longabrger Alumni House around 5 p.m., almost eight hours after trustees began closed-door deliberations.

The board is meeting with university President Michael V. Drake to consider whether Meyer should be punished for his handling of domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant coach that was raised by the assistant coach’s now ex-wife.

The assistant coach and his ex-wife have said both Gene Smith and Meyer’s wife, Shelley Meyer, an instructor in Ohio State’s nursing school, knew of a 2015 instance of alleged domestic violence.

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3:05 p.m.

The wife of Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer has arrived at the building where trustees are meeting to determine Meyer’s fate.

Shelley Meyer was seen walking into a back entrance of the campus building shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Trustees have been meeting since just after 9 a.m. with university President Michael V. Drake to consider whether Urban Meyer should be punished for his handling of domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant coach.

Ohio State put Meyer under investigation after the assistant coach’s wife, Courtney Smith, went public, giving reporter text messages and pictures she traded with Shelley Meyer in 2015.

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2:25 p.m.

The Ohio State board of trustees has been in executive session, meeting behind closed doors, for more than five hours. They are meeting with university President Michael V. Drake to consider whether Buckeyes football coach Urban Meyer should be punished for his handling of domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant coach. And if so, how?

Meyer arrived at the building where the meeting is being held about an hour after it started and is still in the building.

Some trustees emerged from the meeting room to take a break. Trustee and former Ohio State basketball star Clark Kellogg told gathered reporters progress was being made and Meyer was not in the room where trustees were discussing the investigation.

An Ohio State spokesman told reporters there was no guarantee a resolution would be announced right after the meeting.

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10:30 a.m.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has arrived at Longaberger Alumni House on the school’s campus, where the board of trustees and university president are meeting to discuss his future with the Buckeyes.

A camera crew from Columbus television station WSYX tweeted out a photo of Meyer outside the service entrance of the building not long after the board went into a closed executive session.

The board is considering whether Meyer should be punished for his handling of domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant coach. He has been on paid leave since Aug. 8. The Buckeyes opens their season Sept. 1.

Meyer hasn’t been allowed on campus during his leave, which also barred him from speaking with players, coaches, and others associated with the football program.

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9:20 a.m.

Ohio State trustees have begun discussing the future of football coach Urban Meyer.

Board Chairman Michael Gasser briefly called a meeting to order Wednesday before the board went behind closed doors to decide whether Meyer should be punished for his handling of domestic-abuse allegations against a former assistant coach.

The investigation centers on what Meyer knew and did about allegations of abuse against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who was fired July 23 after his ex-wife sought a protective order.

A decision isn’t expected Wednesday. No timetable has been given for final resolution of the saga that has overshadowed the team’s preparation for its 2018 season, which begins Sept. 1.

Ohio State President Michael V. Drake will have the final say on whether Meyer is fired or faces other consequences.

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8:45 a.m.

A large contingent of media gathered at the Ohio State board of trustees arrived for a meeting to discuss the future of football coach Urban Meyer.

The 20-member board planned to meet in private Wednesday morning in Columbus to decide whether Meyer should be punished for his handling of domestic-abuse allegations against a former assistant coach.

The investigation centers on what Meyer knew and did about allegations of abuse against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who was fired July 23 after his ex-wife sought a protective order.

A decision isn’t expected to be announced Wednesday. No timetable has been given for final resolution of the saga that has overshadowed the team’s preparation for it’s 2018 season, which begins Sept. 1.

Ohio State President Michael V. Drake will have the final say on whether Meyer is fired or faces other consequences.