Former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith accepted a plea deal Tuesday to resolve the criminal charges that sparked a months-long controversy for the Buckeyes football program and its head coach, Urban Meyer.
Smith pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in exchange for the dismissal of a criminal trespassing charge. A judge in Delaware County, Ohio, ordered him to pay $289 in fines and court fees associated with the case, according to court records. Courtney Smith, Zach's ex-wife, told ESPN that a judge also awarded her a three-year protection order as part of the resolution.
Courtney Smith accused the former Ohio State wide receivers coach of several instances of habitually abusing her in an interview with Stadium's Brett McMurphy published this summer. She also accused Meyer and other members of the athletic department of failing to help her or properly report her claims when they learned about allegations of abuse in past years.
Ohio State fired Zach Smith in late July, the day after those older allegations were made public.
The school suspended Meyer in early August and launched an investigation into how he and others at the university responded to past cries for help from Courtney Smith. The probe found a long list of red flags about Zach Smith's behavior that went overlooked by Meyer and others. As a result, the school suspended Meyer for the entirety of its preseason training camp, the first week of the regular season and three games.
Meyer said his relationship with Zach Smith's grandfather, former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce, clouded his judgment when assessing Smith's behavior.
Zach Smith said he had a "toxic" relationship with his ex-wife and made mistakes in his personal and professional life, but he denied hitting his wife or doing anything to her that rose to the level of criminal abuse. Courtney Smith contacted police to report abuse on multiple occasions -- first in 2009 when the couple was living in Florida and Zach was working as a staff member for Meyer at the University of Florida and again in 2015 in Columbus. Neither report led to any charges being filed against Smith.
"As I have stated from day one, I was falsely accused of very serious allegations that should not be taken light," Smith said in a Twitter post Tuesday evening. "As well as charged with breaking a law that I did not break. The media circus that ensued caused a great deal of harm to my family, my grandfather's legacy and ruined my professional career I worked extremely hard for since 2005."
Police charged Zach Smith with criminal trespassing last spring, which led to past accusations against him coming to light. Meyer originally denied any knowledge of the 2015 incident but later recanted. His failure to accurately portray what he knew about Smith's past coupled with the way he managed Smith's myriad issues as an Ohio State employee resulted in his lengthy suspension.