Brendan Gibbons Expelled, Untruths Rampant

Submitted by Brian on January 28th, 2014 at 6:21 PM

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The university and athletic department handled Gibbons about as well as he handled this field goal. [Eric Upchurch]

The Daily has revealed that the sketchy way Brendan Gibbons exited the program—a "tweak" before the OSU game followed by barely-credible claims of "family issues"—was in fact a result of the university expelling him for the 2009 rape allegations that were exhumed earlier this year:

“You will be permanently separated from the University of Michigan effective December 20, 2013,” reads a Dec. 19, 2013 letter addressed to Gibbons at his Florida residence from the University’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution, which facilitates disciplinary proceedings against students. The Michigan Daily did not obtain these documents from the University.

In human language, "permanently separated" is expulsion. The OSCR took that action based on a preponderance of the evidence.

Why it took almost five years to reach this conclusion is unknown. The Daily suggests that revised policies from 2011 may have forced the University to re-evaluate, but policies from 2011 do not result in December 2013 expulsions. Given the timing here it's clear that the guy who dumped various court documents on the internet was the proximate cause. That is of course terribly embarrassing for the university, which was apparently fine with having a student they eventually concluded they were at least 50.1% sure raped a girl as long as no one was complaining about it.

Meanwhile, the athletic department's optics here are horrible. Having him on the team is not the issue, or if it is it's on Rodriguez's head. The incident was a year old and seemingly dead when Hoke came in; without the OSCR or other university body stepping in there would be no reason to reconsider Gibbons's status.

But once they knew things were coming to a head they could not have been dumber about this. Not content with offering up the generic and 100% true "violation of team rules" explanation—being enrolled at the university is kind of important if you're going to be on the team—they chose to cloak Gibbons's departure in a thin veneer of sympathy by claiming "family issues." That is a lie. Now they look horrible, and for something a bit more serious than having a noodle in the stadium.

Meanwhile, Hoke's explanation for Gibbons's unavailability for Ohio State is questionable at best. Was this "tweak" legitimate? Is it at all plausible that Gibbons was "iffy" for the bowl game on December 16th, three days before the very last gear of ponderous university justice ground to a halt?

"He's a little iffy," Hoke said. "He's kicking a little bit. But I don't want to over-kick him (in practice).

"I've never been a kicker, so I can't imagine that (muscle pull) problem. So, he's a little iffy."

There is absolutely no chance that Brady Hoke was not fully informed of the status of his kicker by this point. Dave Brandon did not call Brady up on the 19th and say "you're never going to believe this, but…"  That's also a lie, and in the service of what cause again?

UPDATE: A user who used to work at the OSCR provides details on the process:

Having worked at the Office of Student Conflict Resolution (the "disciplinary" office that administered the expulsion proceedings against Gibbons) for two years in undergrad, I thought maybe I could offer some insight / clear up some confusion about the OSCR process in this thread.

OSCR is not, in any appreciable sense, an investigatory body. It is a passive office that acts only after receiving a complaint from some member of the University community. While any individual student, faculty, or staff member can file a complaint, the most common OSCR complainants by far are Residence Education (Housing) and DPS. In order to pursue a complaint with OSCR, the Complainant has to provide all the necessary evidentiary backing; again, OSCR does not investigate events on its own.

The process for initiating and pursuing a complaint with OSCR goes as follows:

  • An OSCR staff member conducts an intake meeting with the Complainant to discuss the nature of his/her/its complaint and inform the Complainant of the various resolution pathways available (in addition to formal arbitration, OSCR offers a number of alternative dispute resolution pathways that do not result in disciplinary action).
  • An OSCR staff member will then conduct an intake meeting with the Respondent to notify him of the complaint and inform him of his rights/options in the process.
  • At that point, the Respondent can either accept responsibility for the complaint or indicate that he's willing to proceed to a formal arbitration.
  • Assuming that the Complainant is also interested in pursuing a formal arbitration, OSCR will either appoint a trained member of the University staff to serve as the formal arbiter, or it will select a panel of student arbiters.
  • After hearing from both the Complainant and the Respondent, the arbiter or the student panel will reach a finding of "responsible" or "not responsible," and will then proceed to make a sanction recommendation.
  • Any recommendations for expulsion have to be approved by a member of the University administration. When I was there, I believe this was the responsibility of the VP for Student Affairs, E. Royster Harper.

As you can see, this is a multi-step process that requires several meetings and often many different witnesses, advisors, and arbiters. With that said, it is emphatically NOT a three- or four-year process. Given that all of the investigatory work is already completed before a complaint is filed, the formal arbitration process does not take very long at all. In my time at OSCR, I can't remember a single arbitration - including those involving sexual assault allegations - lasting more than a single semester, from initial complaint to final sanction.

Comments

Amaizing Blue

January 28th, 2014 at 9:27 PM ^

More on this story will surely come out in the next few days/weeks. Even so, we may never know exactly what happened, who knew what when, and why it took this long to have the situation resolved. There isn't always smoke with fire, but the many possible sources of smoke-allegations of intimidation, cover up, dishonesty-doesn't make me feel good about the outcome. BTW, just talked to my buddy who is also an alum and huge fan and he feels it will turn out to be nothing. Guess we will see....

BlueAggie

January 28th, 2014 at 9:30 PM ^

What follows is conjecture.  Neg as you will.

I think that many of you are overthinking the cover-up angle and the amount of time that passed between incident and expulsion.  Per the police report that was leaked this fall, an accusation was made and investigated.  For whatever reason, the fellow student elected not to pursue the matter further.  The police allowed the case to close without further action.  To my knowledge, there was no OSCR action at this time.  This makes sense as, per the article that Don linked above, prior to 2011 the OSCR process was complainant driven.  If the woman was unwilling to pursue a criminal charge then I strongly suspect that she was unwilling to pursue an OSCR complaint.

The story gets renewed attention this fall when the police report is leaked.  I suspect that someone within the University (OSCR, AD, administration) in an attempt to avoid a scandal, asks what action was taken in 2009 (and perhaps why no OSCR action was taken).  Discovering that the process has now changed and having some reason to suspect that Gibbons may have assaulted another student, the case is sent to OSCR for adjudication.  This process takes most of the semester and Gibbons is expelled in December.

This, of course, doesn't excuse Hoke from answering some hard questions about his comments regarding Gibbons (injury/familty matters).  But, lacking further evidence, pardon me if I don't jump the conclusion that Michigan was engaged in a 4 year coverup/obfuscation/nefariousness.

KSmooth

January 28th, 2014 at 9:30 PM ^

It all boils down to: what did Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke know, and when did they know it?

In defense of Brandon and Hoke, it should be noted that OSCR and the Athletic Department are separate departments of the university, and may not have been communicating well.

I'd want to know what the Athletic Department was told about the case against Gibbons, and when.  As ugly as this looks, you can't be faulted for telling lies unless you knew the truth yourself.

It's also possible that there are some questions about Gibbons responsiblity. OSCR's standard is preponderance of the evidence -- more likely than not.  The standard in a criminal trial is beyond a reasonable guilt.  If the evidence is strong, but not absolutely airtight, it's possible that Brandon and Hoke got conflicting reports from OSCR, and it's also possible that Brandon and Hoke decided not to bring additional harm to a young man who might actually be innocent. 

If I had reason to believe that someone I knew was a rapist, but I wasn't certain, I would be tempted to avoid calling him a rapist in public. That would make the statements they made misleading, but human and forgiveable.  So I'd want to know just what the evidence against Gibbons was.

We won't know that, however, unless he is arrested and charged in a criminal court.  Until that happens, I'd have to assume that the case against Gibbons was strong but not airtight, and I'd give Brandon and Hoke some benefit of the doubt until then.

This is an ugly situation though, no doubt about that.

Ed Shuttlesworth

January 28th, 2014 at 9:32 PM ^

None of that confideniality stuff matters.  Gibbons and Lewan could have and should have been suspended indefinitely for "violating team rules," and the coaches and ADs should have taken a look and found out things like the Lewan police report and acted accordingly.    The process to determine whether Gibbons should remain a student in school is an entirely different process and could run on its own timetable, independently.

There's simply no excuse for letting those guys play on the team unimpeded with the info that we now know was out there.

Flat-out lying about it at the bowl game was merely the last straw.

By 2011-13 virtually all of the guys on the team must have known of the accusations and Lewan's threats and Brandon/Hoke still let them play, and made Lewan a captain -- thus validating his conduct.

There's simply no defense for that.

Ed Shuttlesworth

January 28th, 2014 at 9:32 PM ^

None of that confideniality stuff matters.  Gibbons and Lewan could have and should have been suspended indefinitely for "violating team rules," and the coaches and ADs should have taken a look and found out things like the Lewan police report and acted accordingly.    The process to determine whether Gibbons should remain a student in school is an entirely different process and could run on its own timetable, independently.

There's simply no excuse for letting those guys play on the team unimpeded with the info that we now know was out there.

Flat-out lying about it at the bowl game was merely the last straw.

By 2011-13 virtually all of the guys on the team must have known of the accusations and Lewan's threats and Brandon/Hoke still let them play, and made Lewan a captain -- thus validating his conduct.

There's simply no defense for that.  They have to go.

bronxblue

January 28th, 2014 at 9:50 PM ^

Again, where is all this certainty and factual bases coming from? Gibbons was accused and investigated once before and apparently the evidence wasn't great enough. Now he's investigated again and he's found guilty with a lower standard. That's all we know. Maybe Lewan was involved, maybe not. But acting so high and mighty is silly.

michelin

January 28th, 2014 at 9:35 PM ^

Without further information about the matter, this case seems poorly handled.  It appears to put us on a slippery slope that could take us much too far from the truth. 

But I would need to see the exact transcript of remarks by Brady or the AD to actually accuse anybody of lying.  They could justify their comments as not being lies in any number of ways.  For instance, they could reason: this court case created concerns for Gibbons about being publicly prejudged in the media, which would certainly create “family concerns.” If Brady said this was the ONLY reason that Gibbons would not make the Ohio game, then that would probably be a lie.  But if he discussed the likely university verdict with Gibbons or his family, and got their pro-forma input about the wisdom of playing in the game, to say that “family concerns” were a reason for his nonattendance would not be lying (even if misleading and not the whole truth). 

The same applies to a second instance.  I think you suggest that calling Gibbons’ physical status for the bowl game “iffy” is a lie.  Yet, again the statement could be rationalized.  For instance, Gibbons would be expected to have discomfort awaiting his expulsion.  If Brady said that his discomfort would be the only determinant of his bowl attendance, that would be a lie.  But if he discussed the matter with Gibbons, and Gibbons agred to take himself out of the game before Brady made him ineligible, then Brady’s statement would not tecnically be a lie (even if misleading and not the whole truth).  There could be many other justifications given.  To judge the literal veracity of Brady's statement would require at the very least a transcript of his comments.  

guthrie

January 28th, 2014 at 9:57 PM ^

It appears there may be an actual explanation for the delay, according to the University's FAQ section on student sexual misconduct.

The new standards that allowed the University to use the "preponderance of the evidence" standard (as opposed to the much higher "clear and convincing evidence" standard) was actually implemented on August 19, 2013.  Prior to that, it was some sort of interim policy theey were developing.

If that's the case, then the "delay" is not much of a delay at all.  The evidentiary requirements were lowered and Gibbons was gone in a few months.

 

Here's the FAQ page:

Questions? | Student Sexual Misconduct Policy

 

Erik_in_Dayton

January 28th, 2014 at 11:55 PM ^

I read the info in the link to say that the new proof standard was adopted with the interim policy in 2011. It's confusingly written, though, so I can see why you take it to mean that the new proof standard was adopted in 2013...It still seems likely to me that some change was triggered by the new policy or coincided with the new policy (in 2013), thus leading to a new or newly-empowered investigation.

Ed Shuttlesworth

January 28th, 2014 at 9:54 PM ^

The police report makes it pretty clear Lewan was involved. 

I can't imagine the AD and coaches not hearing/finding out about that early on, and can't begin to understand how he could have been made a captain with that out there.  There's some ambiguity with the other stuff, but that one is impossible to square with anything sensible.

PAproudtoGoBlue

January 28th, 2014 at 9:56 PM ^

If it's an on going criminal investigation they really couldn't/shouldn't talk about it. Also if it's an issue that may be in doubt as to his guilt or innocence the coaching staff shouldn't feel obligated to talk about something that is an allegation. Either way I'm going to stop saying we lost to ohio because we didn't have our kicker. 

Ed Shuttlesworth

January 28th, 2014 at 9:58 PM ^

... and the university and university investigation and the standards there are still getting too much attention.  The football team could have and should have acted independently of the university process.  Hoke and Brandon probably have far more knowledgable and dependable sources of information, and can directly confront the players involved.

The import of the university investigation story is that an independent body found the woman's allegations more credible than not, which makes the inaction by the coach and athletic director even more galling.  But the allegation and police reports were more than enough to suspend the players from the team.

Badkitty

January 28th, 2014 at 10:00 PM ^

All Hoke had to say was, "No comment, I can refer you to the Athletic Department or the OSCR."  But he didn't.  Gibbons was expelled. The reason for the expulsion is known. And he didn't travel with the team, thus the athletic department and coaching staff knew he was expelled.  As far as I know, the OSCR doesn't expel students because "mom was sick", ie.,
"family issues".  I'm sure Hoke knows that.   It's mind-boggling that people would make up excuses for Hoke's lying to the public about Gibbons.

The FannMan

January 28th, 2014 at 10:20 PM ^

1) Gibbons had not been expelled at the time Hoke made his comments.

2) It is a violation of federal law (FERPA), and I bet university policy, for Hoke to reveal that Gibbons was under investigation by OSCR.  Referring reporters of OSCR may pass strict legal muster, but comung man.  That pretty much says it.

3) Gibbons may have actually been hurt, and was dealing with can be called a family issue.  I agree that this was misleading, but I can't say it was a lie. 

Now, you will get no argument from me that the obviously smart thing would have been to say "He is not with the team and that is all I am going say about it" as many times as needed until the reporters all gave up and went home.  I just don't think you can call it a lie.  I guess my bottom line is that, after the Freep jihad, I am willing to forgive a Michigan coach who misleads the media.

The FannMan

January 29th, 2014 at 8:36 AM ^

Your feelings hurt because Hoke didn't tell you the truth?

LOL.

Guess what, coaches mislead all the time. Devin Garnder was really hurt a lot more than Hole let on. "Team rules" can be bad grades or got caught with crack. You are the dumbass if you think coaches are, or should be, 100 percent forthcoming so a bunch of clowns like us can geek on it.

The most open coach I've every seen was RR. The media, and our fan base, eat him alive for it. No Michigan coach should do that.

Finally, all we are talking about is Hoke's family situation comment. That is the huge lie here. What is the big deal he said "family situation" as opposed to "no comment"? Gibbons was still punished. It's just that your obsessive need to know was not fully satisfied. So yeah, let's fire a coach over that.

sj

January 28th, 2014 at 10:24 PM ^

What should MGoBlog done about this issue? There were pretty hefty rumors years ago and quite public press (Jezebel is very well-read) about the alleged assault before this season. The police report is not proof, but it's very concerning. Should they at least have been a little less encouraging of 'brunettes,' a joke which now seems pretty sick? Didn't the blog play a role in making a terribly undeserving placekicker into a mild cultural hero to a few?

All this is to say nothing of Brady Hoke making the brunettes joke to Gibbons in the first place. He never, ever, ever should have said that to someone who had that accusation riding against him.

The blog, probably wisely, does not do much that could resemble gossiping about players, even when it may be relevant to the team's performance. (For example, there was a pretty clear leadership vaccum this year, are we now getting a hint of what it was?) 

I'm saying this seriously and don't know what they should have done. This is a rough situation. 

bronxblue

January 28th, 2014 at 11:10 PM ^

1)  It's a blog.  Gibbons wasn't found guilty at any point.  Jokes are jokes, and while some people alluded to his issues, let's not get too bent out of shape because people (rightfully) presumed the matter had been adjudicated and nothing came of it.

2)  A coach made a joke about, again, a kid who had previously been found to not have committed any infractions.  You want to never joke around a person because, at some point, they were accused of doing something wrong?  That's a pretty tough standard to maintain.

3)  Again, this is a sad situation, but people looking for "bigger meanings" out of it are going to be disappointed.  We don't know what happened, and while more information will likely come out all of these cloak-and-dagger tales about ADs who kept stories quiet while coaches looked the other way are based in fantasy.  Until I read a legitimate police report and follow-up evidence, with actual information substantiated by a third-party reviewer, I don't think it serves anyone any good to guess who is to blame and who screwed up, save for the fact that the bowl game discussions probably could have been handled differently.

lmgoblue1

January 28th, 2014 at 10:24 PM ^

Is there a criminal charge? Is there an investigation? There are many questions and few answers? See Jimbo Fisher and Jameis Winston. You guys are way over-reacting until answers are forthcoming. And maybe there are no answers. Until there are criminal charges this is wild rampant speculation. And 5 YEARS OLD. 5 YEARS! JEEZ. Chill out. Let due process happen. Apparently it has a nice 5 year head start.

Marley Nowell

January 28th, 2014 at 10:30 PM ^

I'm not here to defend Hoke if he was in the wrong but with all the privacy issues its difficult for him to say what was happening.  If there was a better catch-all phrase than "family reasons" he should have used it I guess but the typical "violation of team rules" or whatever else wasn't really applicable here.

If Hoke lied about him being injured against ohio that is a much bigger deal to me.

Sione's Flow

January 28th, 2014 at 10:36 PM ^

I think it's feasible that Gibbons was injured during the Ohio game and Hoke probably answered the question as best he could concerning Gibbons prior to the bowl game.  He may have been instructed by the legal staff at UM to answer the question in that manner.  Again we don't know what was going on behind the scenes with OSCR and the athletic department at the time.  With Hoke having a daughter of his own, I would think he would take allegations like this very seriously.

TXmaizeNblue

January 28th, 2014 at 10:36 PM ^

hoping that somehow there is a reasonable explanation for Hoke's apparent head in the sand. Man, if he allowed him to play when being fully aware of what he did, then how is that any different than JoPa turning a blind eye? I want to hear Brady on this, not Brandon.

BILG

January 28th, 2014 at 10:50 PM ^

Can we start winning?  What happened here is disgusting and for the "I don't want to win if it means we need to pay players, cheat, oversign, etc" crowd, are you still going to follow the team now?  Because this stinks of mismanagement at best and total coverup at worst.  No matter how you cut it, there is a total lack of transparency here. 

In other words, to the "Michigan Man" integrity meme crowd...time to shut it and stop using this as an excuse, as clearly our program is willing to do shitty, unethical things.  We can't be hypocrites here.

The only excuse for not winning, therefore, is simply being bad or poorly coached...not the "we are at a disadvantage because we do things the right way" rationalization we have been regurgitation over the past decade.

In a sense we are the in the worst state.

Win and be ethical - The standard of the "Michigan Man" we tout

Lose and be ethical - Our rationalization and excuse for shittiness over the past decade

Win and be unethical - What we claimed we didn't want ( like Bama, OSU, and win at all costs)

Lose and be unethical - Apparently the pathetic state we are actually in.

remdog

January 28th, 2014 at 10:52 PM ^

This reminds me of a recent scandal at Auburn where a male student was expelled over a sexual assault allegation.  There was a complete lack of due process and fairness in how it was handled.  Basically, he was presumed guilty despite a lack of evidence.  Here's a link on the case:

http://www.mindingthecampus.com/forum/2013/12/the_scandal_at_auburn.html

This is apparently more the norm then the exception on college campuses today.  A male student basically is presumed guilty when accused of a sexual assuault.  In the past, women had fewer rights.  Now, men have fewer rights.  If both individuals are intoxicated, the male is presumed to be a rapist.  If there is literally zero evidence of force or coercion, the male is still presumed to be guilty of rape if accused.   It has to be scary to be a sexually active male in college these days.  Maybe a videotaped consent AND a witness might help.  But I doubt it.

I have no idea whether he's guilty or not but shouldn't the law decide not the university?

Student rights are abused all the time by universities.  FIRE is an organization which fights such abuse. 

remdog

January 28th, 2014 at 11:59 PM ^

You don't think facing criminal charges for sexual assualt wouldn't be scary?  You don't think the threat of losing your freedom and personal reputation isn't scary?

Empathy is a positive trait.  Try it sometime.

Sometimes women choose to have intercourse and then cry rape.  Sometimes men are perfectly innocent and they are convicted anyway and sent to jail for many many years.  Sometimes they are perfectly innocent and acquitted but their lives and reputation are still destroyed. Sometimes a woman makes an unproven allegation and the accused is expelled from school without due process.

EVERYBODY deserves the presumption of innocence until PROVEN guilty.  And everybody deserves to be treated fairly whether they are the accuser or the accused.  

Michigan Arrogance

January 29th, 2014 at 12:10 AM ^

EVERYBODY deserves the presumption of innocence until PROVEN guilty.  And everybody deserves to be treated fairly whether they are the accuser or the accused. 

This is not a court of law (TM).

Empathy is a positive trait.  Try it sometime.

Sometimes men choose to have intercourse whether the woman wants to or not.  Sometimes women are only "guilty" of wearing a short skirt or flirting but they are deemed a whore if they talk.  Sometimes men are acquitted due to impossibly high standards of proof and the women's lives and reputation are destroyed. Sometimes a woman makes an unproven (but nonetheless likely accurate) allegation and the accused is expelled from school with due process that takes 4 fucking years, apparently.

bronxblue

January 29th, 2014 at 8:12 AM ^

Yes, that statement is a little weak, but nobody benefits from a "my life situation is EVEN WORSE" game of one-up-manship.  College and sexuality are difficult for everybody, and throw them together with alcohol, drugs, and poor decision making and nobody comes out with any great shakes.  But nobody here is condoning sexual assault; they are just asking that people not jump to any conclusions based on what amounts to a press release. 

Justice

January 28th, 2014 at 11:10 PM ^

Tragic.  Very unsettling.  As an alumni and avid van, this tarnishes things.  Moreover, my daughter is determined to attend the University in a year.  What to say and do?  Meanwhile, I guess it is perhaps easier to understand the poor kicking performance by young Mr. Gibbons in the first year.  The student tryouts by Coach Rod may have been more than just a performance concern.  Sigh.

bronxblue

January 28th, 2014 at 11:14 PM ^

Really?  I've got a daughter, and I'm definitely not going to tell her not to go to a school because they followed protocol and it turned up that a college kid alledgedly assault a female student.  Every school in America has stuff like this happen on campus, and while this could have been handled differently, this is not some f'ing epidemic.

Justice

January 28th, 2014 at 11:28 PM ^

Agree.  But I will stick to my comment that this tarnishes things and cools a little of the excitement.  Justice here was not swift if even understandable.  I will need to continue to educate her - it is an epidemic of assaults on campus and this is very recently addressed by the President (past week I believe).

bronxblue

January 29th, 2014 at 8:26 AM ^

Well, I agree you need to educate your daughter, as I will with mine.  But this is the realities of today, and I'd have the same message for any sons I may have.  But this wasn't "justice"; it was an administrative hearing.  We may find out there were unrealistic delays or some incorrect behavior by the school, but as of now this sounds like the school and AD handled the situaiton according to the rules in place, and just because those rules allowed for some long delays doesn't show signs of a conspiracy or moral failure.