Head football coach Urban Meyer will be suspended through Sept. 2 and for the first three games of the season without pay, Ohio State University announced Wednesday.
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith will be suspended without pay through Sept. 16.
A two-week investigation found that Meyer and Smith “failed to adhere to the precise requirements of their contracts when they concluded that they needed to await a law enforcement determination to file charges before they reported the otherwise disputed claims of spousal abuse against [former assistant coach] Zach Smith.”
“I want to apologize to Buckeye Nation,” Meyer said. “I followed my heart and not my head. I gave the benefit of the doubt to Zach Smith.”
Smith said he supports the findings of the report and the actions the university has taken.
“I understand I could have done a better job in this instance,” Smith said.
The summary of investigative findings and university actions also states though Meyer made misstatements about the allegations made against Zach Smith at Big Ten Media Days, he was not a part of a “deliberate coverup” to keep the former assistant coach on staff.
Investigative team leader Mary Jo White said Meyer and Smith both knew about the 2015 events regarding the former assistant coach, saying that they both “did not report” to compliance.
When asked if he felt the suspension was fair, Meyer said “I trust and support our president.”
After a 14-day investigation that ended Sunday, the Board of Trustees met in an executive session on Wednesday to discuss the results and decide the future of Urban Meyer with President Michael Drake.
The Board came to the decision after 12 hours of deliberation at the Longaberger Alumni House.
“We looked at the findings and then we considered the range of options that might be available,” Drake said. “Then we worked hard to find a place that was just, fair and appropriate.”
Meyer arrived for the meeting with the Board of Trustees at 9:45 a.m. and was later joined by his wife, Shelley Meyer, and Smith.
Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 1 after former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy first published the allegations of domestic violence by former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith in both 2009 and 2015.
Smith was fired from the university on July 23 after his ex-wife filed a domestic violence civil protection order against him.
At Big Ten Media Days in July, Meyer said he was aware of the incident in 2009 and believed it had been resolved, allowing Zach Smith to continue to coach on his staff at Florida. However, when asked about another incident from 2015, said, “I can’t say it didn’t happen because I wasn’t there. I was never told about anything.”
On Aug. 3, Meyer released his first statement after being placed on paid administrative leave, saying he has “always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures” when learning about domestic violence incidents and “did so regarding the Zach Smith incident in 2015.”
Meyer also said he was “not adequately prepared” for the questions about the allegations against Smith at Big Ten Media Days in July, saying his intention was not to be misleading or inaccurate.
When asked what he would say to Courtney Smith, Zach Smith’s ex-wife, after the suspension was given, Meyer said: “Well, I have a message for everyone involved. For everyone involved in this, I am sorry we are in this situation. I am just sorry we are in this situation.”
While offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day served as the acting head coach, Ohio State closed all practices to the media. The university formed an independent board to work on the investigation of Meyer.
Through six seasons as the head coach at Ohio State, Meyer posted a record of 73-8, winning the first College Football Playoff in 2014 and giving the school its eighth national championship.
With a career record of 46-3 in conference play, Meyer led Ohio State to six Big Ten East titles and two Big Ten championships. In six bowl games, Meyer posted a 4-2 record for the Buckeyes, including a win over USC in the Cotton Bowl.
Over the past four years, Ohio State, under Meyer, has produced 26 NFL draft picks, including seven first-round selections. Meyer also coached six consensus All-Americans while he was with the Buckeyes, including defensive end Joey Bosa, who was named an All-American twice.
Updated on Aug. 7 at 12:15 a.m. with quotes from the press conference.