COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State University will be using a “special, independent board working group” to investigate the domestic abuse allegations of the wife of a former assistant football coach, the school announced on Thursday afternoon.
The group is comprised of three current OSU trustees, as well as Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson, former acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter Stewart.
“The special working group will direct the work of the investigative team and be available to provide consultation and advice and assist with communication to the full board on the matter,” the school statement read in part.
Ohio State placed football coach Urban Meyer on paid administrative leave on Wednesday evening in the wake of reports that showed widespread knowledge of domestic abuse allegations by Courtney Smith, the wife of former assistant coach Zach Smith, by those around the program.
Stu Brown, an Atlanta-based attorney who frequently works in NCAA cases, noted the importance of the university going outside to investigate.
“The announced members of the investigative panel include several individuals with investigative experience and expertise,” Brown said. “Presuming that the panel members have not had significant personal relationships or regular interactions with the people who will be interviewed or with the people whose conduct is under review, the panel seems reasonably designed to accomplish the same goals as the hiring of an outside law firm and may actually be able to investigate and report to the entire board more quickly and efficiently.”
Bringing in outsiders could potentially impact the timeline of the university making a decision on Meyer’s future, as they will have less working knowledge of the infrastructure and reporting lines at Ohio State.
Football practice starts on Friday, with offensive coordinator Ryan Day serving as the interim coach. Ohio State opens the football season Sept. 1 at home against Oregon State. Ohio State announced Thursday that players will not be available to the media in the near future and practice will be closed until further notice, citing the ongoing investigation.
Ohio State fired assistant coach Zach Smith on July 23, soon after college football reporter Brett McMurphy published a report with multiple domestic violence allegations against him.
The crux of what investigators will be looking for is whether Meyer followed proper protocols when and if he received information about allegations regarding Smith.
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