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5 key findings by the independent working group that investigated Urban Meyer and Ohio State

nearly 12-hour day ended a nearly one-month saga at Ohio State. 

When it was over Wednesday night, the independent working group hired to look into how Urban Meyer handled allegations former assistant coach Zach Smith abused his wife released a summary of its findings that included these key items: 

1. Meyer was aware law enforcement in Powell, Ohio, investigated Smith for allegedly abusing Courtney Smith in 2015. 

The coach was informed by director of athletics Gene Smith that fall after law enforcement notified the OSU department of athletics. 

Both Meyer and Gene Smith regularly monitored progress of investigation for a period of months, and ultimately no criminal charges were pressed. 

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The working group concluded Meyer and Smith acted in good faith at that time but did not report the investigation to compliance, as group believes they should have. 

Even though there were no criminal charges, compliance could have determined if there should have been an internal investigation. 

Gene Smith was suspended after an investigation found he did not communicate properly with OSU compliance after an assistant coach was accused of domestic violence.

2. Lead investigator Mary Jo White said the group concluded relying on law enforcement to take action was not sufficient, but the investigation found Meyer and Gene Smith were not alone in misunderstanding what was required of them. 

“A number of the other witnesses who were interviewed had the same understanding as that of Coach Meyer and Athletic Director Smith as to the events required to trigger University reporting obligations. 

“The University therefore will undertake steps to make its requirements clearer and implement additional training to reinforce them” according to a summary of the report published Wednesday night. 

3. Despite Meyer being aware of the 2015 allegation, the investigators did not find Meyer deliberately lied when asked about the incident during Big Ten Media Days in Chicago in late July. 

That is because — as had been widely speculated over the past few weeks — Meyer was focused on a media report Smith was arrested rather than only investigated

However, White said his answer “swept more broadly than the falsely reported arrest and Coach Meyer falsely stated that he lacked knowledge of all relevant events regarding alleged domestic violence by Zach Smith in 2015. While those denials were plainly not accurate, Coach Meyer in our view did not deliberately lie.”

4. The committee found Meyer has a sincere belief in his stated program “core value” to respect women, and he is committed to instilling it in his players. 

White also reported the group found Gene Smith shares that belief. 

Ohio State president Dr. Michael Drake announced punishments for football coach Urban Meyer and director of athletics Gene Smith on Wednesday night.

5. Finally, there was the matter of other misconduct of Zach Smith. 

According to White, her group found “a number of instances of misconduct and other problematic conduct by Zach Smith while he was employed at OSU, some of which was known by Coach Meyer and AD Smith and some of which was not.” 

The failure to deal with those incidents loomed large in the ultimate conclusion Meyer failed in his management of Zach Smith, and that led to a three-game suspension without pay. 

Meyer admitted ignoring “red flags” surrounding Zach Smith and acknowledged his relationship with Smith’s grandfather, the late Earle Bruce, played a role in giving him the benefit of the doubt too often. 

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