Ohio State investigators have preliminary talks with police about Zach Smith case

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Investigators have sought information from local police and members of the Ohio State athletic department this week as they begin a review of how the football program and others at the university handled allegations of domestic assault made against a former assistant coach.

The university appointed a special working group late last week to review allegations made by Courtney Smith, the ex-wife of former wide receivers coach Zach Smith. She said in an interview with college football reporter Brett McMurphy that she believed several high-ranking members of the Buckeyes' athletic department, including coach Urban Meyer, knew about Zach Smith's abusive behavior and did not attempt to intervene.

Police in Powell, Ohio, have had preliminary conversations with the investigators, according to Chief of Police Gary Vest, and are willing to help as much as the law will allow. The Powell police visited Courtney Smith's home twice in the fall of 2015 to respond to complaints about habitual domestic violence and stalking. Neither visit resulted in an arrest or any charges against Zach Smith.

Vest said he is not at liberty to share the details of what his officers discovered about those incidents in 2015 because of confidentiality laws designed to protect the identity of people accused of crimes. Because Smith was not charged with a crime as a result of those incidents, the details of what police found while responding to those cases are not public record, according to Powell's city attorney. Vest said he also denied a request from the investigators working on behalf of Ohio State to see the same records based on advice received from the city's attorney.

Courtney Smith's attorney said in a statement earlier this week that her client was willing to help the investigators at Ohio State if they wanted to speak to her. The statement said that as of Tuesday morning, Ohio State had never contacted Courtney Smith to ask about her allegations. The attorney declined to answer follow-up questions this week.

"I can tell you that Ms. Smith is cautiously optimistic that The Ohio State University's investigative committee will determine if proper reporting protocol was followed upon learning of the ongoing, abuse allegations against Zach Smith," the statement said. "We believe the university must prioritize the safety and well-being of others above all else."

Police reviewed recent statements made by both Courtney and Zach Smith via different media outlets to decide whether anything they said three years after the alleged incidents would warrant re-opening the 2015 case. At this time, it does not appear the case will be reopened.

Ohio State's investigative team -- led by Mary Jo White, who previously has directed several high-profiles inquiries for the NFL -- was formed late last week. A statement released by the university on Sunday said that the committee expects to be done with its review in two weeks. Ohio State started its preseason football practices Friday without Meyer present. Co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day, who joined the program in 2017, is acting as head coach in his absence.