The investigative team handling the suspension of Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith did not send Meyer’s phone to a forensics lab to see if he destroyed evidence, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal released Tuesday.
According to the report, Smith handed over a phone that contained no text messages, saying “he routinely deletes all texts after sending or receiving them.” The reports state this might violate Ohio open records law and the school’s records-retention policy.
Ohio State said, in a statement, the investigative team “conducted a thorough and detailed investigation,” noting that the team interviewed over 40 witnesses, reviewed more than 60,000 documents and 10,000 pages of Meyer’s text messages.
“The independent investigative team at Debevoise & Plimpton, the university and the working group of the Board of Trustees all stand by the independent investigation and its conclusions,” Ohio State said via statement.
Ohio State fired former wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Zach Smith on July 23 after reports of domestic violence was released against his now-ex-wife Courtney Smith.
Meyer and Smith were both suspended on Aug. 1 after they “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.”
Meyer, in his first press conference Monday after completing his three-game suspension, addressed the investigative findings that said the Board of Trustees could not determine whether or not the head coach deleted text messages from his phone. Meyer said he “never deleted a text message” and he “never changed a setting on my phone.”
Meyer said an unnamed IT person in the Ohio State football program changed a setting to help him with storage capacity, deleting text messages after one year. He also said there were nothing to hide in the next messages that were deleted.
According to public records released by the university, Gene Smith said he had no text or email records on his end when asked about a public records request made by The Lantern. The request had asked for emails and texts between Gene Smith and Meyer between the dates of July 18, 2018, and July 24, 2018, as well as between Oct. 25, 2015, and Dec. 1, 2015, as they pertained to wide receiver coach Zach Smith.
“Nothing in my end,” Gene Smith wrote in an email on July 25, 2018 to senior associate athletics director Julie Vannatta
Updated at 2:29 p.m. with a statement from Ohio State.