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Ohio State’s investigation of Urban Meyer ended Wednesday with a three-game suspension that will keep him out for the Buckeyes’ opening games against Oregon State, Rutgers and TCU.
The investigation began as officials tried to figure out who knew what surrounding a 2015 domestic abuse allegation against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith. Smith was fired on July 23 after the 2015 accusation was revealed publicly.
Meyer was put on administrative leave on Aug. 1. Meyer initially denied knowing about the 2015 allegation before admitting he lied to reporters. The investigation sought, among other things, to determine what Meyer did after learning of the accusation.
The report from the investigation was shared with the school’s board on Wednesday. Here’s a timeline of the events that have led to the investigation and suspension.
July 23: Allegations against Zach Smith revealed; OSU fires Smith
This was the day it all surfaced. Esteemed reporter Brett McMurphy took to Facebook to shed light on the history of domestic violence allegations against former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith.
McMurphy’s report revealed two accusations against Smith. In 2009, Gainesville police arrested Smith for aggravated battery against his wife Courtney, who was pregnant at the time. The couple was in Gainesville because Smith was working for Meyer on Florida’s staff as a graduate assistant.
No charges were filed regarding the 2009 accusation.
In 2015, while Zach was working at Ohio State as the team’s wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, he was arrested on felony counts of domestic violence and felonious assault. The couple divorced in September 2016 and no charges have resulted from the 2015 accusation.
The accusations were revealed days after Courtney filed for and received a civil protection order against Zach. The order was filed on July 20.
July 24: Urban Meyer denies knowing of 2015 incident at Big 10 Media Days
Meyer took to the podium for his scheduled media days appearance the morning after Smith was fired. He claimed he had no knowledge of the 2015 allegation to reporters before taking to the podium and said he “didn’t know” who would create a story about the allegation when he was on stage.
“I got a text late last night that something happened in 2015,” Meyer said, “and there was nothing … unless … once again, there was nothing … once again, I don’t know who creates a story like that.”
Urban Meyer’s comments about Zach Smith’s dismissal.
He said what was reported in 2009 about an alleged domestic violence incident “wasn’t actually what happened” and a 2015 alleged incident does not exist.
“I don’t know who creates a story like that." pic.twitter.com/22RcIPnhUB
— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) July 24, 2018
Later that afternoon, McMurphy addressed Meyer’s comments, adding the Powell, Ohio, police department’s confirmation that Zach was investigated Oct. 26, 2015, on felony counts of domestic violence and felonious assault.
McMurphy also reported that Zach was investigated Nov. 9, 2015, for allegations of menacing and stalking.
Aug. 1: Ohio State places Urban Meyer on administrative leave
A week passed after Meyer’s Big 10 media days comments, and McMurphy continued to report. On Aug. 1, he revealed screenshots of text conversations about the abuse allegations from Courtney’s phone. Courtney said she informed the wives of Ohio State staffers about the allegations. That group included Shelley Meyer, Urban’s wife.
Courtney said Shelley told her that she would have to tell Urban about the allegations. Courtney said she believed Urban knew of the allegations. You can click here for a detailed timeline of the allegations against Zach Smith.
EXCLUSIVE: Longtime Urban Meyer assistant Zach Smith's ex-wife, Courtney Smith, opens up about reported domestic violence and what she believes Meyer knew. pic.twitter.com/dNWA9x2F4y
— Stadium (@WatchStadium) August 1, 2018
Later that day, Ohio State announced it would put Meyer on paid administrative leave while an investigation could be conducted. Co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day was made the team’s interim head coach.
Aug. 3: Ohio State announces formation of panel to oversee investigation
A day after Ohio State announced it had put Meyer on paid administrative leave, the university’s Board of Trustees said it formed an “independent working group” of six members to direct the investigative team and “provide consultation and advice and assist with communication to the full board on the matter.”
Former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson was named to the group. So, too, were former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter Stewart and former acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford.
Current trustees Alex Fischer, Janet Porter and Alex Shumate were also named.
Aug. 3: Urban Meyer makes first public statement since he was placed on leave
Meyer issued a statement via Twitter admitting that he lied to reporters on July 24 and knew of the allegation against Smith in 2015 at the time. Meyer wrote that he “always” followed protocol and procedures when reporting incidents involving coaches and staff members and claimed that he didn’t intend to say anything misleading or inaccurate to reporters. He blamed his comments on a lack of preparation.
Not long after Meyer’s statement was released, Zach Smith did an interview with a Columbus radio station and ESPN aired an interview with Smith that was being taped as Meyer’s statement was released.
Smith said he found out about a police investigation into the 2015 allegations from Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who called him while Zach Smith was out recruiting. Zach said he was told to return to Columbus.
Zach also denied that he abused Courtney but admitted that he had physically restrained her. He had this to say when he was asked by 105.7 FM in Columbus about the pictures Courtney took of bruises that she said were from abuse.
“I honestly — I’m not discounting that they aren’t,” Zach said. “I don’t know that. I don’t know when they’re from. I don’t know what they’re from. I honestly have no idea. But there were several times where things got out of hand between us and I’m not saying that as I restrained her and moved her out of my way to exit the house to get out of a volatile situation … it’s completely possible that she got a bruise or a mark. But I honestly don’t know what each picture’s from so I don’t know.”
Aug. 5: Ohio State puts expiration date on its investigation
With Ohio State opening its season September 1 against Oregon State, the university said the investigation would be complete within 14 days.
“We look forward to sharing the results of this investigation and any action the university may take,” the statement said.
Aug. 13: Courtney Smith meets with Ohio State investigative team
After saying she did not speak with Ohio State following the 2015 incident, Courtney Smith met with the school’s investigative team, according to a statement from her attorney, Julia Leveridge.
Courtney Smith and her lawyers met w/independent investigative team hired by Ohio State today
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 13, 2018
“Courtney Smith met with the independent investigative team hired by The Ohio State University Board of Trustees,” Leveridge said in the statement. “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.”
Aug. 14: Zach Smith meets with Ohio State investigative team
Zach Smith’s attorney, Bradley Koffel, spoke to the Columbus Dispatch on Aug. 14, confirming Zach had met with Ohio State’s investigative team.
Koffel said Zach answered every question asked of him. He also said the investigators asking the questions were “thoroughly prepared and very exhaustive in their questioning.”
Aug. 19: Investigation complete
Ohio State said Friday that the investigation would conclude on Aug. 19 as scheduled. The school said the six-person panel appointed to oversee the investigation will share a report on its findings with the Board of Trustees in an executive session scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m.
A decision on Meyer’s future with the school will be made by President Michael V. Drake “following deliberations with the board, and appropriate time for consideration.”
Friday afternoon, McMurphy revealed more allegations against Smith including an accusation — with pictures — that Smith had sex with a former Ohio State staffer inside the football offices and took a lewd picture at the White House.
Aug. 22: Meyer suspended three games
Ohio State announced Meyer will be suspended for the Buckeyes’ first three games against Oregon State, Rutgers and TCU. Athletic director Gene Smith was also suspended for the same three games.
“Although neither Urban Meyer nor Gene Smith condoned or covered up the alleged domestic abuse by Zach Smith, they 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,” the school said in a statement. “Permitting such misconduct to continue is not consistent with the values of the University and reflects poorly on Coach Meyer, Athletic Director Smith and the University. Their handling of this matter did not exhibit the kind of leadership and high standards that we expect of our Athletic Director, Head Coach, Assistant Coaches and all on the football staff.”