Ohio State University ended up paying $1 million to the law firm it hired to help investigate how head football coach Urban Meyer handled domestic violence allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith.

The university paid the flat fee to Debevois and Plimpton on Dec. 27, Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson said in an email. The law firm is rooted in New York City but also has offices in Washington, D.C., and London.

The August investigation kicked off a whirlwind season for the Buckeyes, which included Meyer's three-game suspension to start the season and his announcement in early December that he would step down as coach after the Rose Bowl. Meyer said at the time that his decision to retire stemmed primarily from headaches associated with the arachnoid cyst in his skull, and secondarily because of the three-game suspension over his decision to keep Smith on staff until eventually firing him over domestic violence allegations.

Records detailing the appointment of Debevoise & Plimpton indicate the hourly rate for the work was not to exceed $1,620. The university had originally sought to spend up to $500,000 on the investigation. That request was scheduled to go before the state Controlling Board in August, but it was deferred for budget adjustments.

A new request for a $1 million payment to Debevoise & Plimpton went before the Controlling Board in December and was approved, Ohio Attorney General's Office spokesman Dan Tierney said Thursday.

Former Securities and Exchange Commission chairwoman Mary Jo White, of Debevoise & Plimpton, led the investigative team, which was given a 14-day timetable to conclude its work. Joining White were former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson, former acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter Stewart and university trustees Alex Fischer, Janet Porter and Alex Shumate.

Meyer concluded his reign as head coach of the Buckeyes Tuesday with a 28-23 victory over Washington. He will become an assistant athletic director at Ohio State.

jsmola@dispatch.com

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