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Ohio State AD May Have Violated State Law Amid Investigation, Per WSJ Report

An interior view of Ohio State's football stadium.

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 06: The Ohio State Buckeyes marching band perform before the game against the Ohio Bobcats at Ohio Stadium on September 6, 2008 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The firm hired by Ohio State to investigate Urban Meyer and the football program's handling of accusations against former assistant Zach Smith apparently never looked into deleted text messages on the phones of Meyer or athletic director Gene Smith.

As has previously been reported, Meyer reportedly asked director of football operations Brian Voltolini about how to change settings on his phone to delete texts after a year.

On Monday, Meyer said that an "IT guy" made the change to his phone before the investigation.

Meanwhile, Gene Smith's phone was reportedly turned in with no text messages on it. From The Wall Street Journal:

"These people said that investigators also did not seek to extract deleted text messages from the phone of Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who handed over a device that contained no texts. The AD’s explanation was that he routinely deletes all texts after sending or receiving them, these people said."

According to experts that spoke to the WSJ for the report, deleting the text messages may have violated Ohio State law.

Even so, investigators declined to look into the matter further.

Jack Greiner, a Cincinnati-based lawyer who specializes in media law, says Ohio State’s records-retention policy requires saving correspondence that isn’t transitory—not including, for instance, a text message saying you’ll be home late—for at least one year.

“A blanket practice of deleting texts violates the records-retention policy on its face, which therefore constitutes a violation of the [state] statute,” Mr. Greiner said.

One forensics lab estimated that it would have cost around $2000 to look into when the messages were deleted, and if evidence was destroyed. Debevoise & Plimpton, which handled the investigation, was authorized to charge $500,000 for the probe.

Meyer and Smith are back, and Ohio State football looks to return to business as usual. The more we learn, though, the more it becomes clear that transparency was not a huge concern here, and not every stone was unturned in this investigation.

[The Wall Street Journal]