After a two-week investigation and 11 hours of deliberation, Ohio State has brandished a 3-game suspension on head coach Urban Meyer, the school announced Wednesday.
Meyer will sit out the No. 5 Buckeyes' games with Oregon State, Rutgers and No. 16 TCU. He will rejoin the team on Sept. 2, the Sunday after the Oregon State game, but sit out the Rutgers and TCU games.
Additionally, AD Gene Smith has been suspended from Aug. 31 through Sept. 16, roughly equal to Meyer's suspension.
Both suspensions will be served without pay.
After leveling the suspensions, Ohio State released this statement, saying neither Meyer nor 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."
In short, Ohio State's investigation found Meyer and Smith did not deliberately or maliciously cover up the 2015 allegations against Smith, but, "they did so based upon a good faith belief that they did not have sufficient information to trigger a reporting obligation or initiate a disciplinary action in the absence of law enforcement action." In short, relying on law enforcement to punish Zach Smith was not, in the words of Mary Jo White, who headed the working group overseeing the investigation, an "adequate response" by Ohio State's leadership.
Both men could, and should, have done more, according to the investigators and the Ohio State Board of Trustees. "I followed my heart and not my head," Meyer said Wednesday night. "Most of what I knew about Zach Smith is work related. My biggest regret is that I wish I knew more. Had I known more, I would have taken action quicker."
Meyer said that despite, according to his own admission, he and Shelley Meyer got involved with Zach and Courtney Smith when Zach was arrested in 2009 (the charges were later dropped). Again, here's how Meyer described he and Shelley's relationship with the Smiths at that time:
"There were red flags," Meyer said Wednesday night. "I wish I had known more things. I wish I had been told more things."
Here are the key findings from the investigation:
Meyer was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 1, following a Brett McMurphy report detailing Shelley Meyer's intimate knowledge of Courtney Smith's domestic violence allegations against former Ohio State wide receivers coach and her ex-husband, Zach Smith. Smith was fired July 23, after McMurphy dropped two separate reports detailing alleged domestic violence instances in 2009 and 2015, both of which occurred while Smith was on Meyer's staff. Smith was fired on July 23, but Meyer claimed at Big Ten media days the following day that "there was nothing" to the 2015 case.
On Aug. 3, two days after he was placed on leave, Meyer obliterated any pretense that Ohio State could fire him for cause.
"While at the University of Florida and The Ohio State University, I have always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels," he said in a statement. "And, I did so regarding the Zach Smith incident in 2015."
Betting markets heavily favored Meyer returning to his job after serving a suspension, with the over/under set at 4.5 games.
Meyer is 73-8 in six seasons as Ohio State's head coach. He has never won less than 11 games with the Buckeyes and won at least 12 games while finishing inside the AP top-6 five different times -- including in 2017. He led Ohio State to the school's eighth claimed national championship in 2014, the first awarded in the College Football Playoff era.
Meyer holds a 177-31 career mark with three national championships, six conference titles and eight AP top-5 finishes in 16 seasons as the head coach at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State.
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