Courtney Smith meets with Ohio State investigators; Zach Smith to meet with investigators this week

Zack Smith (WBNS-10TV)
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – An attorney for Courtney Smith says her client met Monday with investigators from The Ohio State University who are looking into how Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer handled allegations of domestic abuse involving his former assistant coach, Zach Smith.

Zach Smith was fired by OSU in late July days after more details of his tumultuous relationship with Courtney Smith became public. The couple divorced in 2016.

Zach Smith was cited in May of this year for violating a trespass order and was named in a civil protection order on July 20 – three days before he was fired by Ohio State.

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The former OSU wide receivers coach has denied the abuse allegations and told 10 Investigates Monday he plans to meet with members of an OSU investigative panel this week.

Smith told 10 Investigates Monday that he was informed about the meeting through his attorney but did not know specifically who he would be talking to or the scope of what would be discussed.

“I’ve no idea,” Smith said.

Smith’s attorney did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The university has impaneled a group of trustees and outside investigators to look into how Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer handled allegations of domestic abuse involving his assistant coach, Zach Smith, who was fired by OSU in late July days after more details of their relationship became public and Smith was named in a civil protection order on July 20 from his ex-wife, Courtney Smith.

Over the past several days, online sports writers have traded point and counter-points on who knew what and when and who said what to whom regarding the domestic allegations between Courtney Smith and Zach Smith.

“It’s all ridiculous,” Zach Smith told 10 Investigates Monday by phone. “(They need) to stay out of my personal life. I did nothing wrong.”

Among the latest reports, posted by sportswriter and author of books on Ohio State football Jeff Snook, Snook cited interviews with Zach Smith’s mother Lynn Bruce and Courtney’s mother, from whom Courtney is estranged. Both women said that Courtney made statements years ago about taking down Zach. Bruce told Snook that she had heard Courtney make statements about taking both Zach and Urban Meyer down, Snook reported on his Facebook page.

In a brief phone interview with 10 Investigates last week, Lynn Bruce – whose father is the late OSU coach Earle Bruce – said that she was tired of her son being vilified in the media as a domestic abuser. She said that her son had never been arrested before. (When we questioned her about a 2009 Florida incident – where Zach was arrested but the charges were later dropped - she said she knew “exactly what happened” but wanted to end the phone call). She did not elaborate. Zach Smith was an assistant for Urban Meyer at the University of Florida at the time.

The reporting over the weekend also included allegations that Texas football coach Tom Herman – a former Meyer assistant -- was the original tipster source for the story, which former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy broke on his Facebook page weeks ago.

Through a spokesman, Herman denied this to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. McMurphy denied this on Twitter.

Zach Smith told 10 Investigates Monday that when people try to write this narrative “all that’s really doing is ultimately hurting an 8-year old and a 6-year old,” referring to his children.

In an interview with 10TV News on Friday, August 3, Zach Smith said that there were times during his toxic relationship with Courtney Smith that he said he had to physically restrain her to get out of situations.

“It was a toxic relationship. It wasn’t a functional relationship. It may be needed to never happen and definitely needed to end. And there were several altercations over our marriage in [our] time in Columbus, where things got physical. Things got out of hand. There were definitely a handful of times where I would have to restrain her and move her out of the way so that I could get out of the situation so it didn’t escalate because it was already beyond a level of escalation that was appropriate,” Smith said during an Aug. 3 interview with 10TV News.

Asked directly Monday by phone if he ever put his hands around her neck, Zach Smith said: “No.”

The Ohio State University has said very little about its ongoing investigation, which began on Aug. 5. It is expected to conclude before Aug. 19.

In two separate interviews, Courtney Smith has alleged that she has endured domestic abuse at the hands of Zach Smith. Courtney Smith has not responded to numerous messages left by 10 Investigates over the past several weeks.

Zach Smith has denied any allegations of abuse and has not been criminally convicted.

Meyer told reporters during Big Ten Media Days event in Chicago that he was not aware of a 2015 domestic incident that was investigated by the Powell, Ohio police department. The university later placed Urban Meyer on administrative leave and he released a statement on Aug. 3 saying that his words failed him during the news conference but that he followed the proper reporting protocols and alerted his superiors of the matter in 2015.

The Powell Police Department has declined to release all the supplemental details of their numerous police runs involving the Smiths citing privacy concerns. WBNS-TV 10 Investigates unit has sent additional open records requests, asking that the police department reconsider and release the supplemental information. The department has so far declined.

But copies of the October 26, 2015 report show that Courtney Smith reported that she had been the victim of “a domestic incident” and that she sustained physical abuse by the suspect. One report generated by a Powell Police detective shows that the offenses included domestic violence and felonious assault. Another report generated by a field officer shows the potential charges included disorderly conduct and aggravated menacing.

Zach Smith was never arrested or charged with anything stemming from the 2015 reports.

In 2009, while working for Meyer as an assistant at the University of Florida, Smith was arrested for battery, but the charges were dropped a week later, records show.

During an August 3 interview with 10TV News, Zach Smith said that mounting media pressure and an effort by Ohio State to protect the players were the reasons he was fired. At the time, he said both Urban Meyer and Athletic Director Gene Smith handled the 2015 matter appropriately.

“I think they handled it perfectly. Because when they found out about it, they immediately pulled me off the road, I went to the police station, and I think they empowered the people that are actually the paid professionals to find out what happened. And they wanted to find out what [the] reality was before they made a rash decision,” Smith said during an Aug. 3 interview with 10TV News.

Statement from Julia Leveridge, Counsel for Courtney Smith

Today, Courtney Smith met with the independent investigative team hired by The Ohio State University Board of Trustees. She was accompanied by her lawyers and welcomed the opportunity to speak to the investigators. Courtney continues to be thankful for the support she has received during this time.

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