COLUMBUS — Former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who was fired last month after a history of domestic violence allegations became public, was arrested in 2013 for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a charge that was later reduced.
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An officer pulled Mr. Smith over at 2:43 a.m. Feb. 23, 2013, in Dublin, Ohio, for speeding — 67 mph in a 50 mph zone — on State Rt. 257 at Summit View Road, about three miles south of the Columbus Zoo.
According to the Dublin Police report, which The Blade obtained through a records request, Mr. Smith was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Mr. Smith refused a breathalyzer test. The arresting officer wrote in his report he “observed Smith’s eyes to be red and glassy. There was a strong odor of alcoholic beverage coming from inside the vehicle.”
Mr. Smith told the officer he was taking his passenger, Kevin Curtis, home from a bar. Mr. Smith stated he had not consumed alcohol. When Mr. Smith exited the vehicle at the officer’s request, the officer said there was still a strong odor of alcohol. During the field sobriety test, the officer wrote Mr. Smith had difficulty keeping his head straight and that an eye test had to be administered multiple times.
In the report, the officer said Mr. Smith swayed during the one leg stand test and the officer then informed Mr. Smith he knew he had been drinking. Mr. Smith then stated he consumed two or three glasses of wine with his then-wife, Courtney.
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Mr. Smith posted a $114 bond — 10 percent of $1,140 — and was released to his father, Tim Smith, at 4:20 a.m. Tim Smith declined comment when contacted by The Blade on Monday.
Mr. Smith was found guilty April 16, 2013 of physical control, a first-degree misdemeanor, in Dublin Mayor’s Court. The operating a vehicle while intoxicated charge was amended and the speeding charge dismissed.
A judge sentenced Mr. Smith to a $375 fine, suspended a three-day jail term, and license suspension for 180 days. Mr. Smith was granted limited driving privileges and completed a 72-hour driver intervention program.
Mr. Smith was fired July 23 after domestic violence allegations against him from 2009 and 2015 were reported. The next day, at Big Ten media days in Chicago, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer repeatedly denied knowing of any incident from 2015 and questioned the validity of the report in the media.
Mr. Smith was investigated by the Powell (Ohio) Police Department for two incidents in 2015, but no charges were filed. He also was arrested by police in Gainesville, Fla., for allegedly throwing Ms. Smith, who was pregnant at the time, against a bedroom wall in 2009, but charges were not pursued. Mr. Smith has denied all allegations of physical abuse.
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There is no mention of the arrest or any of the domestic abuse allegations in Mr. Smith’s publicly released personnel file. Ohio State did not reply Monday to a request for comment.
Brad Koffel, Mr. Smith’s current attorney, did not reply to a request for comment but did tell multiple news outlets that Mr. Smith did not inform Mr. Meyer of the 2013 arrest.
In Mr. Smith’s contract, it states, “Coach agrees to represent Ohio State positively in public and private forums and shall not engage in conduct or act in such a manner that reflects adversely on Ohio State or its athletic programs. Coach shall perform his duties and personally comport himself at all times in a manner consistent with good sportsmanship and with the high moral, ethical and academic standards of Ohio State and its Department of Athletics.”
In the termination section detailing offenses that would result in being fired for cause, the contract says, “Use or consumption by Coach of alcoholic beverages, drugs, controlled substances, steroids or other chemicals as to impair his ability to perform his duties hereunder; or failure by Coach to fully cooperate in the enforcement and implementation of any drug testing program established by Ohio State for student-athletes, as determined by Ohio State…”
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Ohio State placed Mr. Meyer on paid administrative leave Aug. 1 and is investigating what he knew about the domestic abuse allegations against Mr. Smith. On Aug. 3, Mr. Meyer released a statement on Twitter apologizing for making incorrect statements in Chicago while asserting that he did follow proper reporting protocols regarding the allegations.
A six-member panel, which includes three university trustees, a former Ohio House speaker, a former acting U.S. deputy attorney general, and a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, is directing the investigation. Mary Jo White, the former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is leading the investigative team. Ms. White was hired by the NFL to lead the investigations into the New Orleans Saints’ BountyGate scandal, domestic abuse allegations against Ezekiel Elliott, and personal misconduct by former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.
In a statement, Courtney Smith’s attorney, Julia Leveridge, said that Ms. Smith met with the investigative panel on Monday.
Blade staff writers Javonte Anderson and Ryan Dunn contributed to this report.
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