Urban Meyer investigation at Ohio State to wrap up on Sunday

This July 24, 2018, file photo shows Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer speaking at the Big Ten Conference NCAA college football Media Days in Chicago. PlayAP
WATCH New developments in OSU investigation

An independent investigation into how Ohio State's national championship-winning head football coach Urban Meyer handled domestic violence accusations against a staff member will be completed Sunday, the school said Friday.

The school's Board of Trustees appointed an independent group to investigate how Meyer, one of the highest-paid coaches in college football, treated allegations of abuse by the wife of former Ohio State assistant football coach Zach Smith. Courtney Smith, now Zach's ex-wife, told Stadium on Aug. 1 that she believed Meyer was aware of a 2015 claim of abuse against her then-husband.

Courtney Smith said she spoke to Meyer's wife, Shelley, showed her pictures of bruises allegedly from the abuse, and told Shelley to speak to her husband.

Meyer was placed on administrative leave just hours after her interview was released.

In this Sept. 16, 2017 photo, Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith watches before the start of an NCAA college football game against Army in Columbus, Ohio.AP
In this Sept. 16, 2017 photo, Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith watches before the start of an NCAA college football game against Army in Columbus, Ohio.

The coach said at Big Ten Media Day on July 24 he was unaware of the 2015 domestic violence incidence by Smith, only to later apologize in a statement following his placement on leave and say, "My intention was not to say anything inaccurate or misleading. However, I was not adequately prepared to discuss these sensitive personnel issues with the media, and I apologize for the way I handled those questions."

The independent investigation will wrap up its findings on Sunday, and then prepare a report to be delivered to the Board of Trustees sometime next week, Ohio State said in its statement Friday.

This July 24, 2018, file photo shows Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer speaking at the Big Ten Conference NCAA college football Media Days in Chicago. AP
This July 24, 2018, file photo shows Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer speaking at the Big Ten Conference NCAA college football Media Days in Chicago.

"As required by law, public notice of the meeting will be released at least 24 hours in advance," the school said. "Following deliberations with the board, and appropriate time for consideration, President Michael V. Drake will announce his decision."

It's unclear what those penalties could include.

"[Athletic Director] Gene [Smith] and I agree that being on leave during this inquiry will facilitate its completion," Meyer said in a statement following his placement on leave. "This allows the team to conduct training camp with minimal distraction. I eagerly look forward to the resolution of this matter."

Offensive coordinator Ryan Day has served as head coach while Meyer is on leave.

In this Jan. 1, 2011, file photo, then-Florida head coach Urban Meyer puts his arm around his wife Shelley after Florida defeated Penn State 37-24 in the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game, in Tampa, Fla.AP
In this Jan. 1, 2011, file photo, then-Florida head coach Urban Meyer puts his arm around his wife Shelley after Florida defeated Penn State 37-24 in the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game, in Tampa, Fla.

Zach Smith was fired by Ohio State in July after he was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass during a dispute with Courtney Smith. He pleaded not guilty. The charge was just the latest in a number of domestic incidents involving the couple. Zach Smith was arrested in 2009 for allegedly abusing Courtney Smith while she was pregnant, but she ultimately decided not to press charges, Stadium's Brett McMurphy reported. The Columbus Dispatch reported police responded to the couple's home for the 2015 incident, but no charges were filed.

Julia Leveridge, Courtney Smith's lawyer, told "Good Morning America" on Aug. 13 that her client had spoken to investigators and was "thankful for the support she has received during this time."

Zach Smith told ESPN in an interview earlier this month he had spoken to Urban Meyer about the 2015 incident.

"I laid it all out for him," Zach Smith told ESPN in an interview. "I told him apparently my ex-wife is trying to get me charged with domestic abuse. ... He said, 'I swear to God Zach, if I find out you hit her, you're done, you're fired.'"

His attorney, Brad Koffel, told ESPN that his client plans to defend himself against allegations made by his ex-wife in court.

Meyer has won three national championships as a head coach, including two at the University of Florida and one at Ohio State. He will make $7.6 million in 2018.

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