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OSU Investigation: Urban Meyer 'Had Significant Memory Issues,' May Have Deleted Old Texts

The report was released after Ohio State announced that Urban Meyer would be suspended for the first three games of the season without pay.

Ohio State released its Independent Investigation Summary of Findings into how head coach Urban Meyer handled domestic violence allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith. The report revealed Meyer 'had significant memory issues' and may have deleted old texts. 

The report was released after Ohio State held a press conference Wednesday announcing that Meyer would be suspended for the first three games of the season without pay.

The Ohio State Board of Trustees held a closed meeting on Wednesday at the Longaberger Alumni House on campus to discuss their findings from their investigation into Meyer's conduct. The meeting lasted 12 hours. Meyer, his wife Shelley and athletic director Gene Smith were seen entering the building throughout the day.

Zach Smith was fired July 23 after reports surfaced that his ex-wife, Courtney Smith, filed an order of protection against him. Meyer told reporters at Big Ten media days on July 24 that he knew nothing about the allegations. Stadium's Brett McMurphy reported that Meyer had knowledge of the allegations.

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

Meyer was placed on administrative leave and the investigation was announced Aug. 1. 

Meyer will miss Ohio State's games against Oregon State on Sept. 1, Rutgers the following week and No. 16 TCU on Sept. 16 in Arlington, Texas. Athletic director Gene Smith was also suspended without pay from Aug. 31-Sept. 16.

Here are some of the biggest pieces of information that stood out in the report: 

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— The report states that the investigators reviewed "60,000 electronic documents and 10,000 pages of Coach Meyer’s text messages from the past year." The team attempted to but was unable to retrieve text messages for witnesses, including Zach Smith, athletic director Gene Smith and chief of football operations Brian Voltolini.

— The events of the 2009 incident regarding Smith's arrest in Florida occurred following a party at Meyer's home. Formal charges were never filed. Meyer and his wife Shelley were aware of the 2009 incident. The report stated, "Coach Meyer and Shelley Meyer took away from the 2009 events that Courtney Smith was not being entirely truthful when she called 911 to have Zach arrested."

— While there was no other evidence of domestic violence from Smith during from 2010 through the present, the report found other "questionable" behavior while he was employed at Ohio State. This includes a 2013 arrest for operating a vehicle impaired.

In connection with an out of town recruiting visit in May 2014, Smith "ran up a significant bill at a local strip club along with another OSU football coach and one or more high school coaches." According to the report, Voltolini was aware of the incident and Meyer became aware of it as well going as far to include a morality clause in the coach’s manual. Smith also had credit card issues from 2014–2016, with his card being declined multiple times.

— Regarding Courtney Smith's 2015 allegations of domestic abuse, the report found that, "Given the closeness of their relationship and Shelley’s concerns, it is likely that Shelley and Urban Meyer had at least some communication about these allegations in late 2015 and were concerned about them." According to the report, by "late October 2015, Coach Meyer knew of Courtney Smith’s domestic violence complaints against Zach Smith through his knowledge of the 2015-2016 law enforcement investigation."

— Urban Meyer directed a message the night of July 23 (after Zach Smith was fired) to staff stating that the reasons for Zach Smith’s dismissal were "Core value violation and cumulative issues. ‘Win the Moment’–most important thing is team and players at this time." Urban Meyer further added "Zero conversation about Zach’s past issues. We need to help him as he moves frwd. Team and players!!"

— Shelley Meyer sent a text to Urban Meyer, saying "I am worried about Zach’s response. He drinks a lot and I am just not sure how stable he will be. Afraid he will do something dangerous. It’s obvious he has anger/rage issues already." Urban Meyer didn't respond to the text. 

— Investigators found no text messages older than a year on Urban Meyer’s phone. They also uncovered a conversation between Meyer and Voltolini about deleting text messages on Meyer’s phone older than a year after the Aug. 1 report came out that Meyer was aware of Courtney Smith's 2015 abuse allegations. The report could not conclude whether Meyer's phone was set to retain texts for only one year before this conversation or after. 

— In discussing its findings, the report states, "We accept that in July 2018 Coach Meyer was deeply absorbed in football season and wanted to focus on football at Big Ten Media Days. The firing of Zach Smith the day before – the first time Coach Meyer had fired a coach – was also on his mind, as was the erroneous media report of a felony arrest of Zach Smith in 2015. We also learned during the investigation that Coach Meyer has sometimes had significant memory issues in other situations where he had prior extensive knowledge of events. He has also periodically taken medicine that can negatively impair his memory, concentration, and focus."