Ohio State's Urban Meyer receives 3-game suspension

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FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2017, file photo, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer walks on the field before an NCAA college football game against Iowa, in Iowa City, Iowa. Ohio State trustees are set to discuss the future of football coach Urban Meyer. The 20-member board plans to meet in private on Wednesday morning, Aug. 22, 2018, in Columbus to decide whether Meyer should be punished for his handling of domestic-abuse allegations against a former assistant coach.(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Ohio State has announced head football coach Urban Meyer will be suspended through September 2, 2018, and for the games on September 1, 8 and 15 without pay. In total, Meyer will forgo six weeks of compensation.

Athletic Director Gene Smith is suspended without pay from August 31-September 16. “The suspensions are tough, but I fully accept them," said Smith

Ohio State President Michael V. Drake addressed the suspension, saying: “The discipline reflects our collective judgment based on the findings of the investigative report and the independent committee. The board fully supports this conclusion. We made this decision today based on the facts and our values as a university. We value the truth, and this independent team thoroughly and faithfully sought the truth. We value consensus, and today’s decision represents the collective wisdom of the board and the leadership of our university.”

Ohio State says the investigators interviewed more than 40 witnesses and reviewed thousands of documents which included: police reports, court filings, employment contracts NCAA rules and more. To view the official report, click here.

The university said in their official release:

Although Meyer and Gene Smith failed to adhere to the precise requirements of their contracts, they did so based upon a good faith belief that they did not have sufficient information to trigger a reporting obligation or initiate a disciplinary action against former assistant coach Zach Smith in the absence of law enforcement action.

During Ohio State's press conference, Urban Meyer apologized to the fans.

I am fully aware that I am ultimately responsible for this situation that has harmed the university as a whole, our Department of Athletics and our football program. I want to apologize to Buckeye Nation. I followed my heart and not my head.

Ohio State will play the following opponents during Meyer's suspension:

  • September 1: Oregon State vs. Ohio State
  • September 8: Rutgers vs. Ohio State
  • September 15: Ohio State @ TCU (Neutral site)

Ohio State issued a statement regarding the matter:

Although neither Urban Meyer nor Gene Smith condoned or covered up the alleged domestic abuse by Zach Smith, they failed to take sufficient management action relating to Zach Smith’s misconduct and retained an Assistant Coach who was not performing as an appropriate role model for OSU student-athletes. Permitting such misconduct to continue is not consistent with the values of the University and reflects poorly on Coach Meyer, Athletic Director Smith, and the University. Their handling of this matter did not exhibit the kind of leadership and high standards that we expect of our Athletic Director, Head Coach, Assistant Coaches and all on the football staff. Urban Meyer is suspended through September 2, 2018, and for the games on September 1, 8 and 15 without pay. Gene Smith is suspended without pay from August 31-September 16.

Meyer also addressed former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, saying:

I gave Zach Smith the benefit of the doubt. As I reflect my loyalty to his grandfather, Earle Bruce, who is my mentor and like a father to me, it likely impacted how I treated Zach over the years. I did not know everything about Zach Smith, what Zach Smith was doing and I'm pleased the report has made this very clear.

The independent working group formed by trustees to direct the work of the investigative team was led by former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson, and also included former acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter Stewart and current university trustees Alex Fischer, Janet Porter and Alex Shumate.

“Our gratitude goes to our board, university leadership, our independent group and the investigators,” said Board Chair Michael J. Gasser. “They worked exhaustively, and we are pleased to come to a resolution.”

ABC6/FOX28 will continue to update this developing story.