The Ohio State University Board of Trustees on Thursday night announced the formation of a “special, independent board working group” that will direct the inquiry into football head coach Urban Meyer, and whether he had any prior knowledge of domestic assault allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith.
According to a release by the university, current trustees Alex Fischer, Janet Porter and Alex Shumate will be in the group, as will former 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.
According to the release, “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.”
A day earlier, the university placed Meyer on paid administrative leave while it investigates whether or not Meyer knew of allegations of domestic violence against Smith, the recently fired receivers coach.
A report by college football reporter Brett McMurphy earlier Wednesday indicated that Courtney Smith, Zach Smith’s wife at the time, had informed Shelley Meyer, Urban Meyer’s wife, of the alleged abuse in October 2015. McMurphy reported originally that Urban Meyer did indeed know of the allegations back in 2015, though in an interview with Stadium released later Wednesday, Courtney Smith could only confirm she told Shelley Meyer.
“Shelley said she was going to have to tell Urban, she was going to have to tell Urban,” Courtney Smith told Stadium. “I said ‘that’s fine. You should tell Urban. We can’t have somebody like this coaching young men.’”
According to the report by Stadium, Courtney Smith “says she never got confirmation that Shelley told Urban.”
Courtney Smith did tell Stadium that she told several of the assistant coaches’ wives her claims of abuse in 2015, as well.
At Big Ten media day last week, Urban Meyer denied knowing anything about the allegations in 2015.
“I was never told about anything,” Meyer said when asked about what he knew in 2015. “Never anything came to light, never had a conversation about it. So I know nothing about it.”
Meyer termed firing Zach Smith, which happened July 23, as a “very tough call.”
Zach Smith also was arrested for battery of Courtney Smith in 2009 when he was on Urban Meyer’s staff at Florida, an incident Meyer said last week he reported to supervisors at the time. Zach Smith wasn’t charged in the case, as Courtney Smith declined to press charges. She said in her interview with Stadium that she made that decision under pressure from Zach Smith’s family.
Offensive coordinator Ryan Day, who also coaches quarterbacks, will serve as acting head coach during the investigation.
—Field Level Media