Courtney Smith meets with investigators

Bill Rabinowitz,Jennifer Smola
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer [Kyle Robertson, file]

Courtney Smith spoke on Monday with the investigative team hired by Ohio State’s board of trustees examining Urban Meyer’s handling of her 2015 domestic abuse allegations.

Smith’s attorney, Julia Leveridge, released a statement saying that her client was accompanied by her attorneys and “welcomed the opportunity to speak to the investigators.”

“Courtney continues to be thankful for the support she has received during this time,” Leveridge wrote.

Courtney Smith alleges that she was the victim of domestic abuse in 2015 by her ex-husband, former Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith. Meyer said at Big Ten media days that he did not know at the time about allegations. He later acknowledged that he did not truthfully answer questions regarding the alleged incidents and apologized in a post on Twitter. Ohio State placed Meyer on paid administrative leave Aug. 1.

Zach Smith’s attorney, Bradley Koffel, declined to comment when asked whether his client met with investigators on Monday.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office has set a budget of $500,000 for the law firm handling the investigation, pending Controlling Board approval. Correspondence detailing the appointment of law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP indicates the hourly rate for the investigative work is not to exceed $1,620.

Former Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White is leading the investigative team. In addition to White, a request for qualifications submitted to the attorney general’s office also lists two other Debevoise & Plimpton attorneys, Helen Cantwell and David Sarratt, involved in the investigation.

Ohio State will compensate the firm for their services, the appointment letter to the law firm said. The matter is on the Controlling Board's Monday agenda for approval.

>> Read more | Complete coverage of the Urban Meyer investigation

Ohio State spokesman Chris Davey said the investigators have “impeccable credentials for this specialized work.”

Zach Smith has said that he did not tell Meyer about the 2015 allegation, believing it to be a private matter. Through Koffel, Smith said the same about a 2013 misdemeanor conviction for operating a vehicle while intoxicated that came to light Monday.

The OVI conviction was first reported by the Toledo newspaper, The Blade.

Smith was charged with OVI and speeding after being stopped at 2:43 a.m. on Feb. 23, 2013, by Dublin police.

He was given a three-day suspended jail sentence and had his driving rights suspended for 180 days except for to and from his job. The speeding charge — 67 mph in a 50 zone — was dismissed.

“He never told coach Meyer nor did coach Meyer even learn of this (until Monday, most likely),” Koffel told The Dispatch in an email. “Much like the criminal trespass case, Zach chose to deal with it on his own and not involve the university or athletic department.”

If he didn’t, that appears to be a violation of Ohio State policy. According to the university’s self-disclosure of criminal convictions guidelines, employees are required to self-disclose within three business days criminal convictions to the office of human resources.

Zach Smith is facing a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge which stems from a disagreement about where he dropped off the couple’s son.

In the 2013 case, Koffel said that Zach Smith was asleep at home with Courtney when a friend, Kevin Curtis, called him because he was intoxicated and asked for a ride. Koffel said Smith had been drinking earlier in the evening at dinner with Courtney and “felt fine to drive many hours later.”

According to the Dublin police report obtained by The Dispatch, Smith’s eyes were red and glassy when he was stopped and that the police officer could smell a strong odor of alcohol from Smith. Smith refused a breath test and was later handcuffed, searched and transported to the Dublin Justice Center for processing. He was released at 4:20 a.m. to his father.

Smith was fired on July 23 by Meyer after six seasons on the Buckeyes’ coaching staff.