Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer suspended following investigation into handling of domestic abuse

The head football coach will miss the first three games of the 2018 season.

Ohio State University head football coach Urban Meyer has been suspended following an investigation into how he handled accusations of domestic violence against an assistant football coach, school officials announced Wednesday night.

Meyer has been suspended without pay until Sept. 2, and for three football games beginning on Sept. 1, Ohio State University President Michael Drake said in a press conference. Athletic director Gene Smith has also been suspended until Sept. 16 without pay, Drake said.

The university's board of trustees had appointed an independent group to investigate Meyer's handling of domestic violence accusations made by Courtney Smith, the ex-wife of assistant coach Zach Smith.

Meyer had been placed on administrative leave after Courtney Smith told Stadium on Aug. 1 that she believed Meyer was aware of the 2015 abuse allegations.

The investigation found that Meyer was aware of the 2015 law enforcement investigation on Zach Smith but that Meyer did not "deliberately lie" about his knowledge while speaking to reporters at the Big Ten media day on July 24, said Mary Jo White, the lead investigator.

During that media conference, Meyer was "closely focused on erroneous media reports that Smith was arrested in 2015," when he stated that he was unaware of the 2015 incident, White said, adding that Meyer's "answer swept more broadly than the arrest."

"While those denials were plainly not accurate, Coach Meyer did not, in our view, deliberately lie," White said.

While Meyer "did not and does not condone domestic abuse," he "did fail" on alerting the university to the controversy surrounding Smith, Drake said.

Meyer apologized, saying that he did not recognize the red flags in relation to Zach Smith.

"I followed my heart and not my head," Meyer said, adding that he had once been loyal to Zach Smith's grandfather, which may have affected his decision-making. "At each juncture, I gave Zach Smith the benefit of the doubt."

Meyer described the suspensions as "tough" but said he "fully accepts them."

"I take this responsibility very seriously, and I will do better."

Gene Smith was suspended because he "did not exhibit the leadership" expected of him in his role as athletic director, Drake said.

The athletic director "fully supports the findings of the report," he said.

"I understand that I could have done a better job," he said.

Zach Smith was fired by Ohio State in July after he was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass during a dispute with his ex-wife. The former assistant coach has pleaded not guilty to that charge.

Offensive coordinator Ryan Day will serve as interim head coach during Meyer's suspension.