Courtney Smith met with Ohio State’s investigative team on Monday, her attorney, Julia Leveridge, said in a statement.
Courtney Smith, the ex-wife of former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith, says Zach physically abused her on multiple occasions.
“Courtney Smith met with the independent investigative team hired by The Ohio State University Board of Trustees,” Leveridge’s statement read. “She was accompanied by her lawyers and welcomed the opportunity to speak to the investigators. Courtney continues to be thankful for the support she has received during this time.”
What is Ohio State investigating?
The investigative group is looking into how Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer responded — whether he followed proper university protocols — to a 2015 domestic abuse accusation by Courtney against Zach.
Smith was fired by Meyer on July 23 after it was revealed that Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney, obtained a protection order against him following a criminal trespass charge in May. Not long after, college football reporter Brett McMurphy uncovered multiple documented instances of Courtney accusing Zach of domestic violence. The first alleged incident was in 2009, when Zach was on Meyer’s staff at Florida. Another incident was alleged to have occurred in 2015, when Smith was in his fourth season under Meyer at OSU. Several other incidents where Courtney contacted police were subsequently uncovered by Cleveland.com.
At Big Ten Media Days, Meyer said he was aware of the 2009 incident, but was quick to dismiss the 2015 allegation. Later, through additional reporting by McMurphy, it was revealed that Meyer was indeed aware of the 2015 allegation.
Meyer was placed on administrative leave by the university. In a statement, he admitted he lied to reporters but said he followed correct reporting protocols when learning of the allegations against Smith.
Previously, Ohio State had never reached out to Courtney Smith
Last week, Leveridge said in a statement that Courtney Smith was never contacted by the school after the 2015 incident but would welcome the chance to speak with investigators.
“As her attorney, I can tell you that Ms. Smith is cautiously optimistic that the Ohio State University’s investigative committee will determine if proper reporting protocol was followed upon learning of the ongoing abuse allegations against Zach Smith,” Leveridge said. “We believe the University must prioritize the safety and well-being of others above all else. While the Ohio State University has never contacted Ms. Smith to discuss these allegations, she will fully cooperate with the university’s current investigation.”
Statement from Julia Leveridge, counsel for Courtney Smith: pic.twitter.com/X2rAXhKg1O
— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) August 7, 2018
In an on-camera interview with Stadium, Smith said she told Shelley Meyer, Urban’s wife of nearly 30 years, about the abuse in 2015.
“When somebody is crying out for help, I believe the coach and the coach’s wife have a duty. They have a duty to do something. To help,” she said. “Instead of worrying about winning games or instead of worrying about who his mentor is and who his (Zach’s) family is and trying to protect that, somebody’s safety, the safety of their children and the environment that they’re in needs to be more important.”
Who is running the Ohio State investigation?
The school enlisted a “special, independent board working group” to commence the investigation. The group includes three current OSU trustees, Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson, former acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter Stewart.
It is overseen by Mary Jo White, the former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. She has led a number of high-profile investigations in the world of sports in recent years, including the NFL’s investigation into workplace misconduct against former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. The NFL also enlisted White in the investigation into Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and the New Orleans Saints “bountygate” scandal.
“The special working group will direct the work of the investigative team and be available to provide consultation and advice and assist with communication to the full board on the matter,” the school said.
Ohio State said it expects the investigation to be completed within 14 days. Zach Smith is expected to meet with the group in the coming days.
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