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Ohio St. expects to complete investigation within 14 days

By BILL LANDIS • Aug 6, 2018 at 3:59 PM

COLUMBUS — Ohio State on Sunday announced more details regarding the university's investigation of head football coach Urban Meyer, and said it expects the investigation to be completed within 14 days.

"Ohio State is committed to a thorough and complete investigation," former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson, who will serve as chair of a board of trustees-appointed independent working group guiding the investigation, said in a statement. "We look forward to sharing the results of this investigation and any action the university may take."

That working group — which also includes former acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter Stewart, and trustees Alex Fischer, Janet Porter and Alex Shumate — met late last week, named Davidson chair and engaged an independent investigative firm, the school's statement said.

Their charge is to "direct the work of the investigative team and be available to provide consultation and advice, and to assist with communication to the full board on the matter."

Decisions based on the findings of the investigation will made by Ohio State President Michael Drake in consultation with the board of trustees.

Mary Jo White, former Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, will lead the investigative team. In 2017 White served on the advisory panel for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the league's investigation of domestic abuse allegations against former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott was suspended for six games following that investigation.

White also aided the NFL in its investigation of workplace misconduct by former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson in 2018, and in the league's investigation of the New Orleans Saints bounty program in 2010.

She is currently senior chair with the national law firm Debevoise & Plimpton.

Ohio State last Wednesday announced it would be investigating Meyer, who remains on paid administrative leave, to find out what he knew of domestic abuse allegations against former receivers coach Zach Smith and how he handled that information.

Meyer, in a statement released last Friday night, said he was aware of domestic violence allegations against Smith in 2009 and 2015, and that he followed proper protocol in reporting the allegations. When previously asked about both incidents at Big Ten media days on July 24, Meyer said he was aware of 2009 but "never had any conversation" about a 2015 incident regarding Smith.

In his statement on Friday, Meyer said: "I am confident that I took appropriate action ... I deeply regret if I have failed in my words."

He added that expects to rejoin the team soon.

Smith, who worked for Meyer from 2005-09 at Florida and then was hired by Meyer at Ohio State in 2012, was fired on July 23 after those allegations, as well as a civil protection order filed against him by his ex-wife on July 20, were reported by college football reporter Brett McMurphy.

In multiple interviews last Friday, Zach Smith said that Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith was also aware of the allegations in 2015, and was in contact with the Powell, Ohio police investigating the allegations.

Zach Smith was not charged in either alleged domestic violence incident.

Ohio State open fall camp last Friday, under the lead of acting head coach Ryan Day. The Buckeyes open the 2018 season on Sept. 1 against Oregon State.

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