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Ohio State Puts Urban Meyer on Paid Administrative Leave, Opens Investigation into Conduct

OC Ryan Day will serve as interim head football coach during Ohio State's investigation.

Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer has been put on paid administrative leave while the university investigates whether he knew about domestic violence allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith, the university announced.

Offensive coordinator Ryan Day will act as head coach during the investigation.

"The university is conducting an investigation into these allegations," a statement released by Ohio State reads. "During the inquiry, Urban Meyer will be on paid administrative leave. Ryan Day will serve as acting head football coach during the investigation. We are focused on supporting our players and on getting to the truth as expeditiously as possible."

Meyer also released a statement.

"Gene and I agree that being on leave during this inquiry will facilitate its completion," Meyer said. "This allows the team to conduct training camp with minimal distraction. I eagerly look forward to the resolution of this matter."

On Thursday, Ohio State announced that the university's board of trustees formed an independent working board to aid in the investigation of Meyer.

The group includes three current trustees, as well as former Ohio State 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 university said in a statement.

Smith, who was also the program's recruiting coordinator, was fired on July 23, days after reports surfaced that an order of protection had been filed against him by his ex-wife Courtney Smith.

At Big Ten media days on July 24, Meyer told reporters that he did not know about the allegations against Smith from 2015.

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"I was never told about anything," Meyer said. "Never anything came to light, never had a conversation about it. So I know nothing about it."

On Wednesday, college football journalist Brett McMurphy reported that Meyer had knowledge of the allegations. Courtney provided McMurphy with copies of text messages between her and the wives of Ohio State coaches, including Shelley Meyer.

"All the (coaches) wives knew," Courtney told McMurphy. "They all did. Every single one."

In a video interview with Stadium, Courtney said she texted photos and details of the abuse to Shelley.

"Shelley said she was going to have to tell Urban," Courtney said. "I said 'That’s fine, you should tell Urban.' We can't have someone like this coaching young men."

McMurphy also reported that Smith has at least two domestic violence incidents. As a member of Meyer's staff at Florida in 2009, Smith was arrested for aggravated battery of his wife, who at the time was two months pregnant. Charges were not filed in that case.

At Big Ten media days, Meyer said that he had been informed of that incident at the time and passed it along to his superiors, noting to the assembled media that “what was reported wasn’t actually what happened” and that the Smiths were a “very young couple.”

Zach Smith was again arrested in October 2015, this time for felonious assault and domestic violence against his ex-wife.

Police reports obtained by show a history of domestic issues involving Courtney and/or Zach Smith from 2012-2017 in Ohio. In an Oct. 26, 2015, report from the Powell Police Department, Courtney told authorities that she wanted to file a restraining order against Smith.

Hired by Ohio State in 2012, Meyer coached the Buckeyes to a 73-8 record. In his third season, Meyer led the Buckeyes to the 2014 national championship, winning the first College Football Playoff. Smith joined Meyer's staff at Ohio State in 2012.