Probe into Buckeyes, Meyer to conclude Sunday

Probe into Buckeyes, Meyer to conclude Sunday

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Ohio State’s ongoing investigation involving the Buckeyes’ football program and coach Urban Meyer will be completed on Sunday as planned, the university announced Friday evening.
The investigators will deliver a report for the independent working group directing the probe, which will be shared with the board of trustees in an executive session next week.
Ohio State placed Meyer on paid administrative leave on Aug. 1 after the ex-wife of former assistant coach Zach Smith accused Meyer of mishandling past domestic assault allegations she made against Smith. The university appointed the special working group to review the allegations on Aug. 5 and said the investigation would be completed in two weeks.
University president Michael Drake, along with the board of trustees, will determine what action is needed after hearing the results of the investigation.

In its statement Friday evening, the university said that public notice of the meeting will be released at least 24 hours in advance, and that following deliberations with the board, Drake will announce his decision.
The independent working group is chaired by former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson. The investigation is being led by former chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Mary Jo White, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
On Thursday, Drake had indicated the probe might not be done by Sunday, telling radio station WOSU that the investigation “will be finished when it’s finished.”
“There is a great deal of interest in this investigation,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we had really good information, and there is time pressure. We wanted to have that information as quickly as possible. …The most important thing is to get good information so we can make the right decisions going forward.”
Drake said that “things are moving apace” in the investigation but did not comment on what was being asked or who was being interviewed. Zach Smith and Courtney Smith, his ex-wife, have both confirmed through their attorneys that they spoke to the group of investigators earlier this week.
Courtney Smith alleged in an interview with college football reporter Brett McMurphy earlier this month that Meyer and others at Ohio State knew about accusations of domestic abuse in 2015 and did not act on them. Meyer, who fired Zach Smith in late July, originally said he knew nothing about a 2015 incident between the Smiths. He later retracted that statement and said he followed proper protocol in reporting the issue when it occurred in October 2015.
Drake did not get into specifics when asked if lying to the public could be considered a fireable offense.
“What we’re doing now is an investigation to try to find out exactly what happened, why, what the context was, etc.,” Drake said. “I’m going to wait until I know those things before I make conclusions. I’ve been doing my best possible job to keep an open mind. As I said, stay tuned.”
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith also knew about the 2015 allegations, according to Zach Smith. Gene Smith, who has been in charge of the Buckeyes’ athletic department for more than a decade, has not publicly commented on the situation.
An Ohio State spokesman said last week that Gene Smith was on vacation but was available to speak to the investigative team if he was needed.
Drake said he didn’t know if Gene Smith was a focus for the investigators.
“The team is investigating this particular set of circumstances, and I don’t know all the questions they’re asking or what they’re going about,” he said. “I’m waiting until they come forward with information. … I don’t know where it’s going or what they’re coming out with.”
Meyer has not been allowed to interact with the football team since practice began in early August. The Buckeyes play their first game of the season on Sept. 1.
ESPN’s Dan Murphy contributed to this report.

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