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

stephenrjking

January 28th, 2014 at 6:30 PM ^

This is a black mark. Any illusions Michigan fans had of moral high ground, relative to certain behavior issues at rivals MSU and OSU, has vanished. That this took so long to resolve is a disgrace.

 

TheNema

January 28th, 2014 at 8:09 PM ^

An athletic director who doesn't lie as they breathe would be a good start.

EDIT: And yes I know it was Hoke and not Brandon who lied about Gibbons. I'm playing a hunch that lying was Brandon's idea. 

TIMMMAAY

January 28th, 2014 at 10:24 PM ^

I don't see why this got hit so badly, it's not like it's completely untrue. DB constantly strives to parse his words so carefully that he really straddles the line of true/false a whole lot more than I'm comfortable with. I would assume there is no way that Hoke says anything on this publicly without having a private discussion with DB about it.

It just feels sleazy, and I don't like feeling sleazy. 

ontarioblue

January 29th, 2014 at 9:30 AM ^

You can't forget her.  There is no way she didn't know this process was going on.  If she chose not to inform Brandon and Hoke until the letter was delivered then they are clear.  But, I hardly believe that they didn't know before the letter war delivered.  Now begins the cover up.  Heads need to roll if people misled the media about Gibbons true status in December.

French West Indian

January 29th, 2014 at 8:57 AM ^

In that case, probably the best thing is to eliminate the football team altogether.

Sadly, as the "big time' college game gets bigger with more money involved, the political stakes for everyone rises.  Shit has always happened on college campuses and with football teams.  Maybe in the old days, a disciplinarian coach could exercise some control.  But in today's environment, it's far too easy to plead ignorance rather than risk a threat to the cash cow.

Most of us won't like this comment, but if you look at the big picture objectively, the truth is that Gibbons/Lewan stuff is only a hair away from the Penn State & catholic church stuff.  Bottom line is that institutions will do whatever is necessary to protect themselves and we should be very cautious about who/what we support.

Ed Shuttlesworth

January 29th, 2014 at 9:06 AM ^

It's not as bad as Penn State, but it differs from Missouri and Notre Dame only in that the victim apparently didn't kill herself.  Beyond that, the perps' status as football players pretty clearly impacted the way the authorities treated her allegations.

The leaders of the football team pretty clearly just blew the whole thing off; I'm not sure what other interpretation is even possible.  Best case scenario for them is that they asked Lewan about the allegations and he lied and they couldn't figure out he was lying.  They obviously should have asked him and if he admitted them or did anything but convincingly deny them, he should never have played after 2009.

 

highestman

January 28th, 2014 at 6:36 PM ^

I hope as a fan base no one begins with the "Well these are accusations, and it had to go through the due process....". If this happened at MSU or OSU, we would calling it out as a reflection of their lower moral standards. We should be angry as a fan base that this was allowed to happen, and I just hope there's some reason that explains why this would have taken over 3 years to resolve.

Bando Calrissian

January 28th, 2014 at 7:10 PM ^

You have to realize that they've been calling us out the entire time about the Gibbons case, particularly MSU folks. MGoBlog has done a fairly comprehensive job of curbing discussion about this (both when it happened and every time it reemerged in the interim), so maybe a lot of folks here weren't particularly aware of it.

Yet the fact remains that this entire case was one of the worst-kept secrets around the football program, and the only reason people were so quick to doubt it was the particular websites and news sources that reported on the story.

Seth

January 28th, 2014 at 10:17 PM ^

To hear the MSU folks you're referring to Lewan is a rapist too. The threads are still there. My long explanation of our coverage of this is on there too. As to why MGoBlog hasn't been hammering away at it so that every reader is informed, remember that calling a player a rapist to 280,000 people is its own sentence, and there wasn't any proof the guy was even guilty of the allegation. I tried to investigate further hoping to find something more concrete than the Washtenaw Watchdog (a discreditable personage) and got nowhere. I discussed the matter with Brian and he had nothing either.

There's a reason the people on RCMB are treated like the gutter trash of the Internet: they earned it. Let's not let them dictate our editorial policies. I understand some newer readers feel blindsided since it hasn't been on the front page since Watchdog guy's thing last year, and that a rape cover up would, if uncovered, shake our faith in this program to the core. But I have to balance that need against responsible journalism. I won't use this forum to exercise a vendetta, and without being sure of guilt that's exactly what I would be doing.

I've shared all the information I have. I urge those with more to do the same, and those with less to not make judgments anyway.

Bando Calrissian

January 29th, 2014 at 2:55 AM ^

Seth, thanks for your response. I don't disagree with anything you've written here. I too was one of those folks who looked at the websites putting out the Gibbons story with some level of suspicion, and considered the fact that no charges were filed to be indicative of something. I don't fault you guys at all for trying to be reasonable with the evidence you were given at the time, not to mention the tenor of discussion these things tend to attract.

Shit, the RCMB all but disclosed the identity of the victim this evening. They haven't even cleared out all of the posts, either. It's disgusting stuff. We're above that, I would think. Yet when I look at what the Daily uncovered today, and read Brian's frustration with this whole thing, I'm beginning to wonder just what exactly is left of what Fielding Yost called "this Michigan of ours." I'm disappointed the facts in this case were obscured by the journalistic profile of the people uncovering it, being that what seems to be a story with legs was forced to be treated with such suspicion at places like our MGoBlog.

I guess I'm coming to the conclusion that if Brendan Gibbons played even a down of football while Dave Brandon, Rich Rodriguez, Brady Hoke, and this Athletic Department were all in possession of evidence that he was at least plausibly guilty of rape, and if Taylor Lewan was a team captain for even one snap after these same people knew he was at least plausibly guilty of intimidating a victim of a sexual assault, Michigan has gone beyond the pale of moral bankruptcy. 

If these things are true, and I hope they aren't, we're no better than anyone else. And that's sad.

Swayze Howell Sheen

January 29th, 2014 at 6:46 AM ^

Good points all, except one might one quibble with the phrase: "there wasn't any proof". Perhaps not enough proof to make a case in a court of law, but there is *some* proof as many of us who've read the police report can attest. You probably need to parse your wording a little more carefully on this delicate subject.

 

BiSB

January 29th, 2014 at 11:20 AM ^

But the article stayed up. So if you were going to get that information from MGoBlog, you would have seen it. Some people only come here every couple of days, which is perfectly fine, but they can't blame their lack of knowledge of the subject on over-exuberant modding.

Yeoman

January 29th, 2014 at 11:27 AM ^

Of course I was aware of the situation. That doesn't mean there was ample opportunity to discuss it.

I'm not saying anything about the merits of the decision but to claim the moderators did not "curb discussion" of this matter is ridiculous.

FreddieMercuryHayes

January 28th, 2014 at 6:36 PM ^

Good lord. Any 'illusions' about moral high ground should have stopped like 50 years ago. Athletes, coaches, and administrators have been stupid and horrible things ever since stupid and horrible things were possible to be done.

Doesn't mean we still can't laugh at OSU and State when their people do stupid and horrible things.

Lucky Socks

January 28th, 2014 at 6:43 PM ^

You're definitely right.  We're no better than anybody else.  But we're also no worse.  I've read about these rumors way too often at other schools -- including current OSU football, and current MSU basketball.

We're not leaders in this regard, but this type of...whatever you want to call it...definitely isn't unique to U of M.  

DenverBuckeye

January 29th, 2014 at 8:08 AM ^

Let me preface this by saying that I have not read this entire thread yet and that I do not want an argument.

This is not the time to say anything resembling "Yeah, but they do it too!"

First, as a human being, I take no joy in this situation. There are two main scenarios here: a rape happened and the victim received little to no help from the justice system and had to wait years for her university to do the least amount that it could. OR, a rape didn't happen and a man is now having his life negatively impacted because of years old accusations. Either way, this situation is full of lose for everyone.

Second, as an Ohio State fan who reveres the rivalry and its history, this makes me angry. I do not want this shenanigans happening at our great and worthy opponent. Michigan is above this. Hoke does not need to lie about this situation because Michigan is supposed to already have the moral highground and be able to be honest about its issues. And because he lied, the already suspicious three year process will cause even more doubt about the program's actions and intent over the course of the case. By itself, the years long delay would've caused a lot of questions, but Hoke threw gasoline on that fire.

On Hoke in particular, the outsider's (me and other fans) view is now going to be that he is not an honest man. He seems to obfuscate at every turn, from the mundane (post-game pressers and reporter questions) to the serious (lying about Gibbons). Call it what you will, but he is rarely completely forthcoming about anything. I know I will probably get a few "but Urban Liar!!!" statements, but I'll take Urban's answers about the team or player issues over Hoke's any day. He has been nothing but straight forward on team discipline and even evaluating the team's play since he has been our coach.

 

1464

January 29th, 2014 at 9:11 AM ^

I can't argue any of your points.  This Gibbons and Lewan situation is far more serious than the Carlos Hyde situation, and Meyer actually did something about that situation.  In both cases, there was a small amount of reasonable doubt, but in Michigan's case, they waited until Gibbons' eligibility was up before doing anything.  That's disgraceful.  As much as I hate to admit it, OSU has had a better disciplinary record under Meyer than Michigan has had under Hoke or Rich Rod.

Sextus Empiricus

January 29th, 2014 at 1:48 PM ^

...including the timeline and change in Title IX policy, I'm OK with how this was handled including Hoke's comments. It's not a great day but the times are changing. What used to be he said she said is the new expulsion. Time to pay heed and move on.

There is another standard than rape that gets you kicked out of school.  Quibbling on that fact is irrelevant to the delay and misrepresentation.  If it was rape the police are as culpable in not proceeding but again, that is not the issue here so much as the actions or inactions around the event.

grumbler

January 29th, 2014 at 10:13 AM ^

Again, the assertions that this is a black-and-white, only-two-possible-scenarios case is FALSE.

I'll give you a third possibility, for instance:  suppose the woman THOUGHT she was raped, and Gibbons THOUGHT that she had consented?  The crime of rape, after all, is based on the beliefs of the accused, not the victim.

That would mean that no crime had occurred, but that Gibbons had still acted against the wishes of the woman; i.e. that he l;acked the "valid conmsent" required by the student code of conduct.  He could be expelled for that, exactly as he was.

As for Hoke, i don't know what he knew and when, so i can't comment on whether or not your assrtion that he was lying about Gibbons is valid; presumably, before you make such an assertion, you have gained knoweldge that Hoke knew what was going on.  I am going to wait and see before I go flatly stating that someone is lying, myself, but you act according to your own standards.

DenverBuckeye

January 29th, 2014 at 10:53 AM ^

I mean this in the politest way possible; if Hoke didn't know that Gibbons was being considered for expulsion, that's a major issue. Also, calling an expulsion by the school due to sexual assault a "family issue" is a shame. An that's exactly what Hoke did for the bowl game. Yes, I suppose it is an issue for Gibbons' family, but as many others on here have stated, it could have been more accurately described as a violation of program rules or something similar. Also, your assuming Hoke held him out of the Ohio State game for an unrelated matter. I'll allow that there is a chance something else held Gibbons out of the game, but that seems unlikely (and I think most Michigan fans will agree). So if Hoke knew Gibbons was being considered for expulsion and called it an injury issue, he lied. If he didn't know the status of his player within the university, there are some internal issues. No matter what, that's a lose-lose for Michigan.

As far as the third possibility, the woman obviously thinks she was raped. I don't really know what else to say in regards to what is and isn't sexual assault. No matter what, no one wins.

grumbler

January 29th, 2014 at 2:04 PM ^

I don't understand why you think it is a "major issue" if Hoke didn't know that Gibbons was being "considered for expulsion."  There may be no mechanism to inform the coach of such decisions (note how carefully the University has avoided mentioning any names in anything that has gone public) except for the student, and Gibbons really had no reason to inform Hoke, given that Gibbons was done at michigan anyway (barring, possibly, a bowl game appearance).  

I agree that IF Hoke knew about the affair and lied about it, then he is guilty of lying.  That certainly is possible.  However, the mob's eagerness to assume the worst seems more fed by a desire to feel outraged than a desire to see justice done.

As far as what thye woman "obviously" thinks, I will leave that to you mind readers.  My assumption is that she thinks she was raped, based on her behavior, but I don't know how what she thinks is "obviously" true bar mind-reading.  

Whatever the actual facts of the matter, the wheels of jutice have turned and served up an expulsion for Gibbons.  My assumption about that is that the responsible people did their due diligence and the expulsion was deserved (not that you are arguing any different, of course).

 

DenverBuckeye

January 30th, 2014 at 11:47 AM ^

I guess I shouldn't assume you would consider it a major issue. I know our fanbase would consider it a big problem if a player is facing a university investigation and Urban didn't know. As you stated, Gibbons had games left in his career that he would miss. And while the University is being tight-lipped to the public, what reason would they have to not keep his coach in the loop? It's a major issue to me because if Hoke didn't know, it means there isn't communication between the administration and the coaching staff about players. 

Yeoman

January 30th, 2014 at 12:03 PM ^

It's been pointed out several times on these threads that there's a firewall between the disciplinary tribunal and the athletic department (also true of academic departments). In part it's in place to protect the student from any disciplinary action before it's been determined whether there's any merit to the complaint; it's also in place to prevent the possiblity, or even the appearance of the possiblity, that the athletic department might try to influence the disciplinary proceeding.

DenverBuckeye

January 29th, 2014 at 10:58 AM ^

I don't disagree. But there's a time for everything and I just don't think now is the time for that retort. Many in other fanbases would look at your comment as a sour grapes, "Hey they do it too" sentiment. I apologize for the confusion, that's why I phrased it as not being the time for "anything that resembles" that type of comment.

ThereAndBackAgain

January 28th, 2014 at 9:14 PM ^

Many things were done wrong (the incident itself, the coverup, the subsequent bungling of the expulsion with misleading statements vs outright lies), but if this is suddenly the end of the world, we've got to get our priorities straight.

I'm less concerned about Hoke's comments than the prolonged silence afterwards. I'm not sure it is a coach's place to make broad public statements decrying his players, but it is certainly the responsibility of the university to be as transparent as possible. I'll give Hoke a pass, for now.

freejs

January 29th, 2014 at 11:11 AM ^

to press the issue once the standard of proof dropped to preponderance of evidence?

That would place the initiation of her claim in September 2013 or later - and I don't see how resolving that by January of 2014 is inappropriately slow deliberation.

Not saying we know the above is the case, but it certainly is within the realm of logical possibilities (and is borrowed from grumbler's suggestion in another thread - to assign proper credit).

pasadenablue

January 28th, 2014 at 6:32 PM ^

Only information on how Michigan (football program and university) are impacted...

 

No comment on how raping someone is reprehensible?

No comment on the fact that frat boys covering up a rape is reprehensible?

No comment on how the university almost getting away with covering up a rape is reprehensible?

pasadenablue

January 28th, 2014 at 6:48 PM ^

well, excuse me, but shouldn't it be a goal to try and raise awareness and stop shit like this from happening in the future?

 

you're fucking blessed with a platform from where you can write a single sentence, condemning such actions unequivocally, and thousands of people will read it, mostly young men, who might actually take it to heart.  your words might stop the next brandon gibbons dead in his tracks.

 

so instead of telling me to go fuck myself, how about you do the right thing?

Champ Kind

January 28th, 2014 at 6:58 PM ^

Do people really need to be told not to rape other people? Would they not be able to figure that out without advice from a blogger? It would be pretty sad if the only thing that stopped young men from raping people was because Brian Cook said it wasn't cool. I doubt potential rapists look at WWBCD bracelts. It's clear this is a reprehensible crime whether or not it is condemned unequivocally by a guy on the internet. 

Also, in your original post you talk about a frat coverup. Isn't it still true that football players aren't allowed to join fraternities or did I miss something?

pasadenablue

January 28th, 2014 at 7:10 PM ^

Is there ever a bad time to tell kids that rape is bad?  Is there ever a bad time to try and raise awareness, especially with a teaching point right on the table?  I mean its not rocket science.  Its this easy!

 

"Kids: treat women with respect.  Rape is reprehensible.  Please keep the victim in your thoughts."  Rest of post commences here.

 

I mean, really, is it that hard?  Would it have distracted from the rest of the post?

 

Rape occured in a frat.  Lewan helped with the cover up.  My source is a member of that frat who was(and still is) sickened and beyond disgust over what happened.  The members of the frat were not involved and were fully compliant in the investigation.  I'm using frat boys in a connotative manner.

Champ Kind

January 28th, 2014 at 7:12 PM ^

Could it have been mentioned with your wording? Yes. However, these are things obvious to everyone. You are not the only one who understands this is all reprehensible. Everyone knows this, so it is not necessary. I wouldn't take advice on living a moral life from a blogger any more than I would from an athlete.

I knew Lewan was involved in the cover up but was confused about the frat mention. Was their a conspiracy among the members of that fraternity to cover it up. It sounds like your friend was against that idea as I'm sure others were.