Zach Smith denies domestic abuse, says Urban Meyer and Gene Smith knew of 2015 incident

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer broke his silence Friday, sharing his version of the truth in terms of exactly what he knew regarding the Zach Smith domestic violence allegation from 2015. Not long thereafter, Smith, the now-former wide receivers coach for the Buckeyes, followed suit. 

During interviews on 105.7 The Zone in Columbus, Ohio, and on ESPN's "SportsCenter," Smith said he never committed domestic abuse against his ex-wife, Courtney. Instead, Smith said that he and his former wife had a "volatile" relationship that was "toxic." When asked about photos that Courtney shared with reporter Brett McMurphy, Smith told 105.7 The Zone, "There are times when things got out of hand and I had to restrain her, or defensively move out of the situation -- leave and sleep at my office."

Zach Smith added "I don't know where or what they are from. I have no idea. There were several times things got out of hand between us and I may have restrained her to get out of the house."

Smith also explained that Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith called him following the 2015 incident and told him to "get on the next plane home." When asked how Gene Smith found out about the incident, Zach Smith replied, "I don't know this for a fact, but I believe the Powell Police Department contracted Ohio State ... not Urban, but contacted the university." 

During his ESPN interview, Smith confirmed that spoke with Meyer in 2015 following the incident in question.

Here are some key comments from Smith from the two interviews.

  • On what he told Meyer: "When he asked me what the hell's going on, I told him Courtney's accusing me of committing domestic violence. I didn't. I don't know what's going on, but I'm going to go down and meet with the investigator and find out what the deal is. After that, I told him, I said, 'They have some pictures of her. Anything that happened to her body was all just defensive movements to remove myself form the situation and that's it.' I said, 'I'm not going to get charged for the incident because I did nothing wrong.'"
  • On how Meyer responded: "He looked at me and said, 'I swear to God, Zach, if I found out you hit her, you're done. You're fired.'"
  • On how Meyer moved forward with the incident: "I think he found out the facts he needed to find out as the head coach of Ohio State and as my direct boss. He needed to make decisions based on those facts. I don't think it was his job to investigate, to ask questions, to talk to her. He only had to talk to me because he already got the other side of the story from the incident report. So he wanted to know what really happened from me and then he let the police do their job. You can't have a head coach doing investigating when there's investigators doing investigating."
  • On how Meyer learned of the incident: "The information initially came from Gene Smith, the athletic director. One of the things Urban always does is, he's a good employee. He's going to let the higher ups do what they have to do. ... In his mind, it was already being investigated by police and administration know there was an investigation. ... Gene Smith called me. I don't know what else Urban Meyer could have done. I don't know what anybody else could have done."
  • On if Meyer gets fired: "I would be heartbroken for Ohio State, for the players, for him and his family because it's not right. It's not. If that happens, it's dead wrong. Coming from somebody who knows. I was in all the meetings. I knew exactly what he knew; I knew exactly what he did. If he loses his job, it's flat wrong. And this is the guy who fired me. It would be a crime."
  • On his reaction to Meyer's official statement from Friday: "That was as heartfelt, honest, true a statement as I've ever heard. That's who he is right there. It was just accurate."

The case for the 2015 incident with the Smith family remains open. As of now, Zach Smith has not been formally charged. In time, we may know what happened, as there is a long line of domestic abuse allegations made by Courtney dating back to when her ex-husband was an intern at Florida. 

But inarguably, the biggest takeaway from Zach Smith's interviews is that he says Gene Smith knew about the 2015 incident. That, coupled with Meyer's statement, puts a lot more focus on the athletic director as this story moves forward.  

CBS Sports Writer

Ben Kercheval joined CBS Sports in 2016 and has been covering college football since 2010. Before CBS, Ben worked at Bleacher Report, UPROXX Sports and NBC Sports. As a long-suffering North Texas graduate,... Full Bio

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