Ohio State's investigation couldn't conclude Urban Meyer 'deliberately lied' at Big Ten Media Days

Ohio State announced Wednesday night that Urban Meyer would not coach the team’s first three games of the season for his role in the handling of domestic abuse allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith in 2015.

Meyer, who has been on paid administrative leave, is suspended without pay through Sept. 2. He can rejoin the team after then but can’t coach in a game until Sept. 23. He’ll miss games against Oregon State, Rutgers and TCU. Ryan Day is the team’s interim coach.

Additionally, athletic director Gene Smith is suspended from Aug. 31-Sept. 16. Here are some of the most noteworthy quotes from the news conference involving lead investigator Mary Jo White, Ohio State president Michael Drake, Gene Smith and Meyer.

White started off the press conference with a summary of the report.

Investigation unable to conclude Urban Meyer ‘deliberately lied’

Lead investigator Mary Jo White said a big part of the investigation stemmed from the statement Meyer made July 24 at Big Ten Media Days when he said he didn’t know about a July 2015 accusation of domestic violence against Smith.

She opened the news conference with a statement about the investigation.

“Despite Coach Meyer’s clear awareness in 2015 of monitoring of the law enforcement investigation of Zach Smith for domestic violence we ultimately did not conclude that Coach Meyer deliberately lied during his comments at Big Ten Media Days on July 24, 2018,” White said. “He has consistently maintained that he did not recall in July 2018 what he knew in 2015 regarding the domestic violence investigation of Zach Smith by law enforcement.

“And we credit that Coach Meyer in answering reporters’ questions on July 24 was closely focused on erroneous media reports that Zach Smith had been arrested on felony charges in 2015, which coach Meyer had determined the night before not to have occurred. But his answers swept more broadly than the falsely reported arrest and Coach Meyer falsely stated that he lacked knowledge of all relevant events regarding alleged domestic violence by Zach Smith in 2015.

“While those denials were plainly not accurate, Coach Meyer did not, in our view, deliberately lie.”

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Urban Meyer through his career
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Urban Meyer through his career
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 24: Ohio State Football head coach Urban Meyer speaks to the media during the Big Ten Football Media Days event on July 24, 2018 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 24: Urban Meyer the Head Coach of the Florida Gators is pictured during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats on September 24, 2005 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Florida won 49-28. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 30: Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer talks with his defense during a game against ther Alabama Crimson Tide at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field September 30, 2006 in Gainsville, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
08 JAN 2007: University of Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer and wide receiver Dallas Baker (81) receive a Gatorade bath after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes during the BCS National Championship game held at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. Florida defeated OSU 41-14 for the national title. Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images.
GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators walks the sidelines while taking on the Florida State Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium November 24, 2007 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Florida head coach Urban Meyer flashes a big smile after he sat down with Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, not shown, at a media conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida, Wednesday, December 10, 2008. Florida and Oklahoma will play in the 2009 FedEx BCS National Championship Bowl. (Photo by John VanBeekum/Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 01: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators stands on the field before the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats at the Louisana Superdome on January 1, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Florida head coach Urban Meyer celebrates with his wife, Shelley, after the Gators' 31-17 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Saturday, September 18, 2010. (Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
Florida head coach Urban Meyer signals for a touchdown during the Gators' 34-31 overtime victory over Georgia at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, Saturday, October 30, 2010. (Photo by Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
Urban Meyer, former head coach of the Florida Gators, is seen before the start of the game between the Broncos and Dolphins. The Denver Broncos defeated the Miami Dolphins, 18-15, in overtime at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Sunday, October 23, 2011. (Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 1, 2012: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes takes questions from the media after a game with the Miami Redhawks at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes won 56-10.(Photo by David Dermer/ Diamond Images/ Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 8: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches as his team warms up prior to the start of the game against the Central Florida Knights on September 8, 2012 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio defeated Central Florida 31-16. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 7: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes and his daughter Nicole Meyer, left, and wife Shelley Meyer sing Carmen Ohio with the Buckeye football team after the Buckeyes' 42-7 victory over the San Diego State Aztecs at Ohio Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 19: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes on the sidelines during game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Ohio Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 30, 2013: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes answers questions front he media during the post game press conference after a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Buckeyes won 42-41. (Photo by David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 18: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches his team warm up before a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Ohio Stadium on October 18, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 25: Urban Meyer head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes coaches during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 25, 2014 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
06 December 2014: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer celebrates with the Big Ten Championship trophy named the Stagg Championship Trophy in action during the NCAA Big 10 Championship football game between the Wisconsin Badgers and Ohio State Buckeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
January 1, 2015: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer receives the winning trophy during the Ohio State Buckeyes game versus the Alabama Crimson Tide in their College Football Playoff Semifinal played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Scott Donaldson/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
January 1, 2015: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer watches during the Ohio State Buckeyes game versus the Alabama Crimson Tide in their College Football Playoff Semifinal played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
12 January 2015: Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Devin Smith (9) hugs the trophy with Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer and wife Shelley as following the Ohio State Buckeyes game versus the Oregon Ducks in the College Football Playoff National Championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Ohio State won 42-20. (Photo by Ray Carlin/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - JANUARY 28: Urban Meyer, head football coach at Ohio State University, hits his tee shot on the 16th hole during the pro-am prior to the start of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on January 28, 2015 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
19 September 2015: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer and his family sing Carmen Ohio to the fans following the game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Northern Illinois Huskies at the Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Khris Hale/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes holds the Fiesta Bowl trophy after the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Ohio State Buckeyes beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 44-28. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes calls out instructions to his players during the second quarter of the game against the Bowling Green Falcons on September 3, 2016 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 8: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches his team play against the Indiana Hoosiers at Ohio Stadium on October 8, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Indiana 38-17. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 26: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts on the sideline during overtime of the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on against the Clemson Tigers during the 2016 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 31, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 07: Ohio State Buckeyes Head Coach Urban Meyer addresses members of the media during a press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus, Ohio on August 7th, 2017. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 07: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer walks to the sideline after checking on Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Branden Bowen (not pictured) who was injured during first quarter game action between the Maryland Terrapins and the Ohio State Buckeyes (10) on October 7, 2017 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State leads Maryland 20-7 at the end of the first quarter. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Urban Meyer the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes holds the winner's trophy after 27-21 win over the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts during the Big Ten Championship against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Here’s what Meyer said at Big Ten Media Days. He said in an Aug. 3 statement that he lied at Big Ten Media Days and blamed the misstatements on a lack of preparation.

Brett McMurphy, the reporter who publicly revealed the domestic abuse allegations against Smith, posted a picture of the 2015 incident report after the news conference. The box next to “arrest” is checked.

On July 23, I reported Zach Smith was arrested in 2015 because that is exactly what the Powell Police’s Ohio Uniform Offense Report from 2015 indicated. “Box F Arrest – Adult” had an “X” in it. I have included a copy of that report (the handwritten notes on the report are mine in the days/weeks after I obtained the report). 

On July 24, the Powell, Ohio, Police Department released a “revised report” about the 2015 incident – nearly three years after the incident – and the Powell Police Department changed its original report and now had the arrest box unchecked in its “revised report.

Meyer accepts responsibility for ‘this situation’

Meyer breezed through a prepared statement shortly after White’s remarks about the investigation. Here is part of it.

“I am fully aware that I am ultimately responsible for this situation that has harmed the university as a whole and the department of athletics and our football program and Buckeye Nation. I followed my heart and not my head. I fell short in pursuing full information because at each juncture I gave Zach Smith the benefit of the doubt.

“As I reflect, my loyalty to his grandfather Earle Bruce, who was my mentor, likely impacted how I treated Zach over the years. I did not know everything about Zach Smith, what Zach Smith was doing and I am pleased that the report made this very clear. However I should have demanded more from him and recognized red flags.

“I did a poor job at media day. That’s a big reason why we’re here today. I was not being as complete or accurate as I should have been at media day and afterward. But there was no intent to mislead. My role is to set a good example and in this instance I did not live up to the university’s standards.”

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Rally in support of Urban Meyer held at stadium
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Rally in support of Urban Meyer held at stadium
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 6: Supporters of Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer hold signs at a rally at Ohio State University on August 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer is on paid administrative leave after a reports alleging he knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against former assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 6: Supporters of Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer sing Carmen Ohio at a rally at Ohio State University on August 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer is on paid administrative leave after a reports alleging he knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against former assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 6: Supporters of Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer hold signs at a rally at Ohio State University on August 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer is on paid administrative leave after a reports alleging he knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against former assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 6: A supporter of Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer hold signs at a rally at Ohio State University on August 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer is on paid administrative leave after a reports alleging he knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against former assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 6: A supporter of Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer hold signs at a rally at Ohio State University on August 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer is on paid administrative leave after a reports alleging he knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against former assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 6: Supporters of Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer hold signs at a rally at Ohio State University on August 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer is on paid administrative leave after a reports alleging he knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against former assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 6: Supporters of Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer hold signs at a rally at Ohio State University on August 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer is on paid administrative leave after a reports alleging he knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against former assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 6: Stacy Elliott, father of former Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott, speaks at a rally in support of Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer at Ohio State University on August 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer is on paid administrative leave after a reports alleging he knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against former assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 6: Supporters of Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer hold signs at a rally at Ohio State University on August 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer is on paid administrative leave after a reports alleging he knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against former assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 6: Jeff Hamms, organizer of a rally in support of Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer, and Stacy Elliott, father of former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, embrace at Ohio State University on August 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer is on paid administrative leave after a reports alleging he knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against former assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 6: Supporters of Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer sign a giant card for Meyer at a rally at Ohio State University on August 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer is on paid administrative leave after a reports alleging he knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against former assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 6: Supporters of Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer sign a giant card for Meyer at a rally at Ohio State University on August 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer is on paid administrative leave after a reports alleging he knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against former assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Gene Smith asked if he knew of 2009 incident involving Zach Smith

Ohio State’s athletic director was asked if he had been told of a 2009 domestic abuse allegation against Zach Smith when Smith was a graduate assistant under Meyer at Florida.

“No I was not,” Gene Smith said.

Why Meyer said he fired Zach Smith

Smith was fired July 23, three days after his ex-wife Courtney Smith received a protection order against him. The firing also came hours after the allegations of domestic abuse from 2009 and 2015 were revealed publicly.

“I received that week, I can’t remember the exact date, someone told me there was a court date or asked was I aware of a court date involving Zach,” Meyer said. “I said I was not. They started explaining to me it was a trespassing issue. I immediately contacted Gene. I told [director of football operations] Brian Voltolini to find out more about what happened. I called Zach Smith in. He was on vacation and I had him come in to ask what this was all about. He told me in great detail what had happened and that he was dropping his children off at a certain location and then went to the house and eventually had a citation for trespassing. He made it sound like it was not that big of a deal.

“I told Gene and we both decided to just keep him updated. I was very disappointed it had happened approximately two months prior to that. I was very upset that he didn’t share that with me. And I made that clear, ‘You have to keep me exactly posted on any situation like that,’ so I can alert Gene.”

“And then I go to media days and that Monday I find out there’s a restraining order and that’s when termination entered my mind. The seriousness of a restraining order and also the fact that I made very clear that you keep me posted and alert me to any situation and he did not do that and later that day I made the decision to fire him.”

What Meyer would say to Courtney Smith

Meyer was asked at the end of the press conference what he would say to Zach Smith’s ex-wife Courtney. He did not directly apologize to her.

“My message for everyone involved in this: I’m sorry we’re in this situation,” Meyer said. “I’m just sorry we’re in this situation.”

Meyer ‘unaware’ of text messages from Courtney Smith to his wife Shelley

Courtney Smith said she told Shelley Meyer about the allegations against Zach. Shelley said she would have to tell Urban about it. Urban Meyer said he did not hear about the allegations from Shelley.

“I was not aware of Shelley’s text messages at the time,” Meyer said.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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