Like Urban Meyer, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is hoping to avoid being found guilty of negligence by investigators into claims he didn't do enough in handling allegations of domestic abuse against former Buckeyes assistant Zach Smith.

Meyer released a statement last week implicating his boss in the middle of the Zach Smith fallout, saying, "I have always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels."

With Meyer on paid administrative leave and the investigation at its halfway point based on the university's public timeline for coming to a solution, Ohio State announced Thursday that Smith is beginning a week's vacation and is out of the office.

He remains available to speak with the investigative team, said Ben Johnson, OSU's Director of Media and Public Relations on Thursday.

Where it gets sticky for Smith is whether investigators uncover that he failed to properly report and look into Zach Smith's alleged abuse allegations. Nathaniel Grow, a professor at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business with expertise in sports law, told The Dispatch this week there's language within Gene Smith's current contract with the Buckeyes that could lead to his termination if improperly followed.

“There are definitely several provisions in here that could trip him up,” Grow said. “The big question is: What did he do with that information once he became aware of it?”

There's one portion of Smith's contract that requires him to “personally comport himself at all times in a manner consistent with the high moral, ethical and academic standards of OSU and the athletic department.” Smith must immediately report to university compliance if an employee “has violated or is likely to violate or may potentially have violated” laws of Ohio State policy, which is what Zach Smith would've allegedly done.

If Gene Smith did follow proper protocol and handled the alleged domestic abuse by Zach Smith swiftly with university compliance, he'll have grounds to defend himself, Grow told The Dispatch.

“If I’m his defense attorney, I’m saying, ‘Well, if the police decided they’re not pressing charges, then they are the ones who determine whether the law has been violated,’ ” Grow said. “And if the police don’t think it’s been violated, then he hasn’t messed up there. There was no legal violation so there’s nothing to report.”

The latest bombshell to come out Thursday dealt a possible blow to Courtney Smith's credibility. Longtime Ohio State insider Jeff Snook published an interview with Lynn Bruce, Zach Smith's mother, on Facebook that detailed a scheme devised by Courtney Smith to "take down" Zach Smith and Meyer.

Bruce describes Courtney Smith as a scorned ex-wife with a vendetta against her son, who she says was never abusive. She describes the volatile relationship between Zach and Courtney and even said Tina Carano, Courtney's mother, doesn't believe domestic abuse ever happened.