OSU releases documents related to Urban Meyer investigation


COLUMBUS — Ohio State released a batch of public records Tuesday related to the Urban Meyer investigation.

Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer makes a statement during a news conference in Columbus last week at which a three-game suspension for the coach was announced.
Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer makes a statement during a news conference in Columbus last week at which a three-game suspension for the coach was announced.

Included in the documents were text messages between Meyer, athletic director Gene Smith, and sports information director Jerry Emig discussing what to say at Big Ten media days, an email from a drug rehabilitation employee talking about Smith’s stint in rehab, and a text exchange between Meyer and his agent, Trace Armstrong.

But perhaps most enlightening was the fact that Meyer was permitted to meet with the team last Thursday, one day after he was given a three-game suspension. He spoke to players and coaches for about 45 minutes at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, according to an email from Susan Bosso, OSU’s senior vice president of human resources.

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“Those meetings are kind of private with our team, and I think that’s probably a good question for when coach [Meyer] gets back next week,” acting head coach Ryan Day said Tuesday on the Big Ten teleconference. “But I will tell you, obviously, the guys were happy to see him. Shoot, I was happy to see him because we’re used to seeing each other every day, and so I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks. That was good. There was a lot of hugs, and I know Coach was really happy to see the guys.”

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On Oct. 30, 2015, four days after Powell (Ohio) Police were called to an alleged domestic dispute at the home of former receivers coach Zach Smith and his now-ex-wife Courtney Smith, OSU’s then-Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Miechelle Willis, wrote several notes down on a piece of paper including, “What would we do if this was a player?” Willis also jotted down “entitled to due process” and seemed to indicate Smith should be placed on administrative leave.

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Under direction from Meyer, Smith attended drug rehab at Lindner Center of Hope in suburban Cincinnati in 2016. Someone claiming to be an employee at Lindner Center emailed the law firm of Mary Jo White, who led the investigation of Meyer, and said Smith left after four days of a 10-day treatment.

“It was evident to me that he had no intention of completing the program or even taking it seriously,” the individual wrote.

“I wanted to pass this along because it didn’t make sense to me why a school like Ohio State would keep him as a coach if he had all these domestic violence issues [and] didn’t complete his rehab…”

On the night of July 23 — the day of Brett McMurphy’s initial report into the history of domestic violence accusations against Zach Smith — Meyer, Gene Smith, and Emig exchanged a series of text messages on a group thread. Meyer told them he knew nothing about what McMurphy had reported as a 2015 felony arrest involving Zach Smith and asked for guidance on how to address the media the next day in Chicago.

Emig told Meyer to say there were things in Zach Smith’s past that he wasn’t aware of and that he didn’t want to get into details. He also told Meyer to say he was aware of the 2009 incident at Florida and that charges were never filed. However, recent developments — including a domestic violence protection order Courtney Smith filed against Zach Smith on July 20 — had led Meyer to dismiss Smith, which he did July 23.

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Meyer responded by having Emig write down the talking points. Gene Smith told Meyer to “be careful” and to stray from being “too detailed.” He suggested Meyer tell the media, “I was aware of two legal instances in 2009 and 2015. The most recent issue is inconsistent with our values.”

On 2015, Emig suggested saying, “There were no charges in 2015 and I really don’t even recall any details.”

On that same day, Meyer told Armstrong that Smith was fired for “cumulative stuff,” adding, “I will not tell the media.”

Armstrong responded: “...only a matter of time before [Zach Smith] did something that did substantial harm to you or the program.”

Contact Kyle Rowland at krowland@theblade.com, 419-724-6110 or on Twitter @KyleRowland.