Ohio State fired receivers coach Zach Smith on July 23, after multiple domestic violations against Smith came to public light. Since then, more revelations have come out, and the school placing Meyer on paid administrative leave on Aug. 1.
On Aug. 22, Ohio State announced that Meyer will be suspended for the Buckeyes’ first three games of the season against Oregon State. Rutgers, and TCU.
Here’s a timeline of the investigation, now that it has has concluded.
Courtney Smith, the former assistant coach’s ex-wife, accused Zach Smith of repeated domestic violence going back to 2009.
On July 23, reporter Brett McMurphy was first to report on the incident that happened in 2009, while Smith worked for Meyer as a Florida Gators grad assistant:
[Smith] was arrested for aggravated battery on a pregnant victim, according to a Gainesville Police Department report. Courtney Smith was 8-10 weeks pregnant at the time.
That alleged assault occurred on June 21, 2009 – the Smith’s one-year wedding anniversary. Courtney Smith, however, ultimately decided not to press charges.
A few days after Zach’s 2009 arrest, Courtney said two of Meyer’s closest friends – Hiram de Fries and Earle Bruce – asked her to drop the charges. Bruce is Zach Smith’s grandfather, de Fries is Meyer’s “life coach.”
The Columbus Dispatch reported that police twice went to Smith’s wife’s home in late 2015 to investigate reports of domestic abuse:
Two incident reports provided by the Powell police department on Tuesday detailed a visit to Courtney Smith’s home on Oct. 26, 2015, for suspicion of domestic violence and felonious assault. Fourteen days later, police were called to the residence on a complaint of menacing by stalking.
In neither case was Zach Smith charged or arrested.
Smith told Stadium she believed police had sufficient evidence to charge him with domestic violence.
In 2016, the couple divorced.
Cleveland.com reports several other incidents, including her telling police in 2015 that she was being followed by a black SUV and that Zach Smith received a trespassing warning in December 2017 after she told police he’d been outside her house at 1:30 a.m.
The Dispatch reported that police arrested Smith in July 2018:
He was, however, arrested last week on a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing dating from a May incident when Smith was dropping one of the couple’s two children at his ex-wife’s apartment.
He pled not guilty to that charge. Smith’s lawyer said the fired coach will “tell his side of events” after both Zach and Courtney Smith have been “sworn in to testify.”
Zach Smith's attorney, Brad Koffel, texted me to say that Smith didn't tell Meyer even about this May's criminal trespass charge as a way of protecting Meyer, even though Koffel advised him to do so.— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) August 1, 2018
Urban Meyer said “there was nothing” to reports of a 2015 incident when asked.
Meyer commented from a podium at Big Ten Media Days in late July 2018, after he was asked about Smith, who’s the grandson of former Buckeyes coach and Meyer mentor Earle Bruce:
In 2015, I got a text late last night that something happened in 2015, and there was nothing — unless, once again, there’s nothing — once again, I don’t know who creates a story like that.
After those remarks, McMurphy reported that a 2015 incident’s official status has since changed:
On the original Oct. 26, 2015 Powell Police report, a box on the form was checked indicating Zach had been arrested. However, nearly three years later – after I reported the incident last week – the Powell Police released a revised version of the report to the media and the arrest box was no longer checked.
“The terminology used by the Police Department was different in the original report (dated 10/26/2015) and inconsistent with what actually occurred,” said Megan Canavan, director of communication for the Powell Police Department.
Meyer also said that in 2009, he let “the experts” investigate, and indicated they said “what was reported wasn’t actually what happened.”
From Meyer’s same Big Ten Media Days comments:
Well, I’m going to address the 2009, because I’ve been asked about that. In 2009, Zach was an intern, uh, a very young couple. As I do many times — as I imagine most coaches or people in leadership positions — you receive a phone call, the first thing you do is tell your boss. Let the experts do their jobs. We’re certainly not going to investigate.
It came back to me what was reported wasn’t actually what happened, so Shelley and I both got involved actually — because of our relationship with that family — and advised for counseling and wanted to help as we moved forward.
Courtney Smith says she came forward in 2015 to tell Meyer’s wife, Shelley, and the wives of other OSU coaches.
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
She says she told Shelley Meyer of Zach Smith’s domestic abuse. Asked whether Shelley ever confirmed she’d shared the information with Urban, Courtney says, “she did not.”
Text messages said by McMurphy to be between the two women appear to indicate wives of OSU coaches were aware.
Courtney said Shelley Meyer, Urban’s wife of nearly three decades, knew about the abuse that begin in 2009, continued in 2015 and culminated with Zach Smith being served a domestic violence civil protection order last week.
Courtney said she and Shelly often discussed Zach’s domestic violence.
“Shelly said she was going to have to tell Urban,” Courtney said. “I said: ‘That’s fine, you should tell Urban.’ I know Shelley did everything she could.”
McMurphy made an an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt later that day, where he was asked about Urban’s knowledge.
“I have mounds of evidence that indicate that Urban Meyer would have known about this basically because [of] his relationship with his wife Shelley, who — he discussed at Big Ten Media days about how close they are,” McMurphy said. “They share everything, he relies on her for everything. They’ve been married 29 years. I find it hard to believe that the same couple they counseled in 2009 — she has evidence, she knows of domestic violence against this same woman in 2015. And they completely ignore it, and Urban has no knowledge.”
McMurphy’s report also referenced text messages that he says are from a 2015 conversation on the subject between Courtney Smith and Shelley Meyer, along with photos of wounds suffered by Courtney and a conversation said to include the wife of another longtime Urban staffer, who’s quoted as saying, “[Urban] just said [Zach Smith] denied everything.”
Zach Smith’s mother and Courtney Smith’s mother both weighed in.
To author Jeff Snook, Zach Smith’s mother, Lynn Bruce, argued against allegations that her son abused Courtney Smith.
Courtney Smith’s mother, Tina Carano, who is reportedly estranged from her daughter, told McMurphy:
“I can tell you this – when all this happened – I’m trying to be there as a mother,” Carano said Saturday. “I’m going to support her.”
I then asked Carano why she texted Zach to stop with the abuse when she claimed in a text message-only interview with Jeff Snook on Thursday that the domestic abuse allegations against Zach Smith were false.
Carano said Zach Smith put her hands against Courtney Smith’s throat in “self defense.”
“He hit her because of self defense,” Carano told me Saturday. “It’s not like he punched (her) or threw a punch at her. He was putting his hands against her throat and pushing her against a wall to get away. That’s all I’m going to say.”
She then ended the phone call.
Meyer released a (vague) statement ahead of Zach Smith’s appearance on two media outlets in early August.
The key assertion Meyer made is that he ran the information up the flagpole as he was supposed to, as well as trying to clear up what he said at Big Ten media day.
Meyer said when he went on leave that he looked forward to return.
Finally, Ohio State announced a three-game suspension for Meyer.
OSU announced AD Gene Smith would also be facing a 17-day suspension. The school gave this rationale for the decision to suspend — but not fire or otherwise discipline — Meyer and Gene Smith:
Although Coach Meyer and Athletic Director Smith failed to adhere to the precise requirements of their contracts when they concluded that they needed to await a law enforcement determination to file charges before they reported the otherwise disputed claims of spousal abuse against Zach Smith, they did so based upon a good faith belief that they did not have sufficient information to trigger a reporting obligation or initiate disciplinary action in the absence of law enforcement action. Other than their misunderstanding of the requirements triggering reporting obligations, neither Coach Meyer nor Athletic Director Smith violated any policy, rules, law or contractual obligation in connection with the alleged domestic abuse claims against Zach Smith.
"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."— Ari Wasserman (@AriWasserman) August 23, 2018
Meyer also spoke for the first time publicly since his suspension, and addressed his comments at Big Ten Media Days:
Meyer: "I did a poor job at media day. But there was no intent to mislead. The suspensions are tough but I fully support them."— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) August 23, 2018
Meyer was also asked when he made the decision to fire Zach Smith:
Meyer says he was "very upset" he wasn't informed of the trespassing incident. When he heard about the restraining order, that's when termination crossed his mind.— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) August 23, 2018
And two days after that press conference, Meyer apologized to Courtney Smith via Twitter.
And a week after that, Meyer released a statement defending himself against allegations that he knew of Smith’s domestic violence and trying to explain the suspension:
Meyer will return with the team after OSU’s game against TCU on Sept. 15