Brendan Gibbons Expelled, Untruths Rampant Comment Count

Brian January 28th, 2014 at 6:21 PM


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.



January 28th, 2014 at 7:51 PM ^

But no one said anything about not trying to stop rape from happening, and there doesn't seem to be any confusion here about whether or not rape is wrong.

If (just for example) this was about a stabbing instead of a rape would you similarly feel that Brian needs to say that stabbing people is reprehensible?


January 29th, 2014 at 10:18 AM ^

No, we are commenting on a story where a guy got kicked out of college for violating the sexual conduct stadards of the student code.  Anyone arguing that it was rape is doing so in defiance of the evidence at hand.

Given what we know, Gibbons should have been booted by not charged with a crime.  Given what we think we know, the same is true of Lewan.


January 28th, 2014 at 7:27 PM ^

Because by not explictly condemning something obviously wrong you seem to indicate that Brian is tacitly approving of it.

One does not have to state the obvious in order to demonstrate to you or anyone else that he is against something that rational people are against to begin with.

Lastly, if you're relying on a sports blog to teach children that sexual assault is wrong, then you've got bigger problems than Brian not making you happy.



January 28th, 2014 at 7:31 PM ^

No, my problem is that there was an absolute lack of attention paid to the issue that is rape culture in universities today.  It's not just Michigan.


And if Brian thinks that telling me to fuck off is more important confronting this issue, that's his choice.  I didn't call him a dick or anything.  I just wrote what I saw.  Did it make him look good?  No.  Is that my fault?  No.


January 28th, 2014 at 9:25 PM ^

Pasadenablue, you clearly read this blog and take part in this community. You have garnered a lot personal enjoyment from Brian's work. What has Brian gotten from you? Accusations of condoning (or at the very least ignoring) rape?

Lets be honest: you're trolling. Maybe not on purpose. But you've got an agenda to push (for whatever reasons, right or wrong), and you're insulting everyone's intelligence. We get it. Rape still happens, for god only knows what terrible reasons. No one is saying we have to stand for it, or that it is 'right.' All people should be taught this, and need to hear it from time to time.

You are free to comment as you like, as are the rest of us. Your self-righteousness is just spiritual egocentricity.


January 29th, 2014 at 9:11 AM ^

Rape culture. I knew that buzz phrase would be coming if you posted long enough. Your borderline hysteria gave it away.

The overall theme of your argument seems to be that a young man's default position is rape. Only by using every conceivable opportunity to point out rape culture can we correct this.

"Hey don't forget fellas, no raping!"

It's pretty damn offensive to those of us who know rape is wrong, and who raise sons that know rape is wrong.


January 28th, 2014 at 8:22 PM ^

The friend in the frat can't be too sick of it. He's still a member.  Seems like the issues you have with Brian's post must pretty trivial compared to the anger you feel toward your "friend." He actually could have helped bring justice to this ugly crime and yet has done nothing over the past few years.  

Yet, you're angry at Brian?  I think your priorities are wrong pasadenablue.


January 28th, 2014 at 6:58 PM ^

1) Thinking that a single sentence from Brian is going to change how young men act seems a bit...overdrawn.

2) I don't think Brian has a responsibility to speak to these things at every opportunity. If he wants to get on a soapbox, there are probably other venues to do that.  This is a blog, not a PSA.


January 28th, 2014 at 10:21 PM ^

Whether or not the allegations were properly handled when  is questionable given the timeframe of the allegations and the outcome of the matter. 

As for attempting to eliminate media attention, Michigan is guilty as charged. The public relations are terrible on this, and the school should  just admit it by addressing the matter straightforwardly. 

The nature of this case and the manner in which it was reviewed ought to be a lesson for the university as a whole. How does it plan to address these issues going forward? 

I think the victim in this case felt totally frustrated by the process of making her case known to university authorities. And so this matter dragged on over time without being properly resolved, and that is the real problem which has led to the clear disclosure issues with Hoke's description of Gibbon's status during Michigan's last two games of the season. 

Now, there are privacy concerns which both protect the victim and perpertrator which also impact this situation and complicate the announcement. But clearly lying about the nature of Gibbon's roster absence is a poor excuse for protecting personal security and rationalizing your response to the sensitivity. 

But given the way the coach handles other personnel questions, like injuries, are you surprise that he would take this tack? He handled it the same way. And in this case, many could reasonably argue he was wrong to do so. I am one of those.  




January 29th, 2014 at 11:40 AM ^

It is entirely possible Gibbons was actually injured for the OSU game and beyond. Anyone who says otherwise is rampantly speculating. It is also entirely possible Hoke didn't know about the pending expulsion until it actually happened. You would think he would know about it in advance of the pending expulsion, but we really don't know, you know? It's not like OSCR is buddy-buddy with Hoke. It is entirely plausible that they expelled Gibbons without directly telling Hoke and the athletic department until the day he was expelled

All of that, to me, points to the "family issues" comment that he needs to better explain. I think it's a poorly-worded and disingenuous statement, not necessarily a full-on lie (considering Hoke may not have been able to make any comment on what was going on due to FERPA). Certainly there were better ways for him to handle it at the time. But all that being said, he needs to come out and explain what he knew when he knew, and why he explained it the way he did. 

I'm willing to give Hoke the benefit of the doubt here. But he HAS to come out and explain some things or else his reputation is damaged...look at how rival fans are treating this. Look at this thread. Some people think he should be fired, apparently. I think that's a bit severe, but still, if this blog serves as some sort of cross section of Michigan fans, then it looks bad and he can't sit idly by without saying anything about it.


January 28th, 2014 at 6:55 PM ^

I agree that some things don't have to be said. In a piece like this, to me, the question is one of tone. Does the writing convey outrage or disappointment or some other feeling that makes clear that the author condemns the inappropriate action? I think this one does. In hindsight, you might have given a bit more emphasis to that side of it, but this is a sports blog, not Mother Jones.

I think your comment could stand a bit of modulation, but I'll just go fuck off as well lest you need repeat yourself.


January 28th, 2014 at 7:16 PM ^

Beautifully written. The point of the other guy's post was not that Brian should have written "rape isn't good and it's a terrible act" but that the post had a tone of "well this is embarassing to the university and because of that I am outraged."


In Brian's defense this is a sports blog about the University of Michigan, and it makes sense that basically everything should be written through a lense of sports and UM. 


January 28th, 2014 at 9:44 PM ^

He's pissed off that Hoke lied and acted Gibbons' issue was a fucking injury,when it obviously wasn't and the scale of the ALLEGED incident would seem to dictate a different approach.  

As far as Brian not crucifying Gibbons hereL the facts aren't out yet , Disciplinary Councils at universities don't generally have reputations as bastions of the rights of the accused, and it's possible Gibbons got railroaded.  So why jump to conclusions that will have to be taken back later.

All that said, this Fort Schembechler thing has been pretty stupid since the moment it got put in place againand lying and saying an issue like this was an injury is insulting.  Someone needs to explain exactly what the hell happened or I don't see a reason why anyone should trust another word coming out of the mouths of anyone involved with the football program. 


January 28th, 2014 at 8:52 PM ^

could you also say "pancreatic cancer is not ideal"? Because I don't think this point gets emphasized as much as it should, and as a result, there may be some confusion about it in the general populace.  It's really not ideal, not at all.

Year of Revenge II

January 30th, 2014 at 7:40 AM ^

I feel you, but you are almost better off in the long run IMHO ignoring comments like these. This person most likely has an agenda, and if yours does not completely coincide with theirs, such a person will start complaining that your performance has been lacking, which is not true here. Keep up the good work.


January 28th, 2014 at 6:44 PM ^

It's a given those things are reprehensible, no comment necessary. But any assumption that the people in charge of the University, AD, and football team would handle those things in an honest, timely, and appropriate manner is very much in doubt.


January 28th, 2014 at 6:36 PM ^

Did it exist in its current form prior to 2011?  When was the complaint filed?  In 2009?  Later?  My general reaction to this is to be sick to my stomach, but there are also details that we seem to lack. 

I think we can shoot down the notion that football controlled this process through-and-through, because Gibbons would have played against OSU and KSU if that were the case (assuming that he wasn't really injured - and he may well have been).  Of course, football could dominate but not completely control the situation, which could lead to the delay. 

Coastal Elite

January 28th, 2014 at 6:56 PM ^

Erik, I wrote the description of the OSCR process that Brian quoted above, and just wanted to emphasize that the formal arbitration process has been the same since well before 2009. The reduced standard of proof for sexual assault allegations, however, seems to be a new thing since I left. When the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities was undergoing its scheduled revision in 2010, there was a suggestion that the standard of proof for sexual assault allegations be reduced to "preponderance of the evidence" (50.1%, although I hate that quantification) rather than "clear and convincing" (the more demanding standard required for all other violations). I was under the impression that that amendment did not pass the CSG, but apparently another amendment was made in the interim.

TL;DR - the process was the same going back to 2009 (and before), but the standard of proof for sexual assault allegations is lower now.


January 28th, 2014 at 10:52 PM ^

of the process, and the standard by which certain behavior is judged before action is taken. 

This reminds me of a case where criminal charges could have been brought but instead the matter winds up being resolved in civil court. There are separate issues at stake: did the university handle the allegations properly when first notified. And that is a whole separate matter from how the case was eventually adjudicated 

If you are going to hold yourself accountable as a school and football program, then you must take responsibility when one of your student athletes' behavior crosses the line and violates those standards, regardless of how those might impact your football program. 

This really has nothing to do with Gibbons himself and what he did or didn't do, because we don't know the circumstances or facts of the case. The allegations were sufficient to bring a complaint that was resolved in the victim's favor and prompting the expulsion of her attacker. 

This matter should have been handled as a joint announcement by the unviersity office making the decision in connection with Hoke, using whatever language and sensitivity in explaining the outcome as they deemed fit, without putting the university's image and Hoke's own veractiy at stake. Because that didn't happen and Hoke handled this like limited hangout on team-related personnel matters, the school is now facing an embarrassing pr problem that raises a whole set of questions that never needed to be addressed publicly. 


January 28th, 2014 at 10:02 PM ^

The Feds forced a change to the "preponderance of evidence" standard for campus sexual misconduct investigations fairly recently (this was an extralegal and arguably unconstitutional process,and the violations of any reasonable rights of the accused in campus tribunals are absurd, but that's politics and this case may not be a great example of it so I'll stop).

Point is, now if 51% of evidence points to guilt, the verdict is guilty. At the time of the alleged assault by Gibbons, that standard of guilt was higher (not sure about what Michigan used, but "clear and convincing evidence" was common). So that's a possible cause - the evidence was not clear enough to punish Gibbons based on the previous higher standard, but under the preponderance of evidence standard he was considered guilty.

I'm speculating, but that's the most likely non nefarious explanation for both the delay and the lack of legal action by the police.

Michigan Arrogance

January 28th, 2014 at 6:33 PM ^

I just.... I can't stand incompetence from people with such lofty positions and salaries.

Just fucking expell the dirtbag 4 years ago. Or, you know 4 months ago. Stop playing "the game" and start doing the right fucking thing. I'm talking about Hoke, Brandon, the university officers as described above, among others.


January 28th, 2014 at 6:43 PM ^

I've thought about this quite a lot since the football coach at my undergrad school apparently made some players run stairs after they sexually assaulted a female soccer player in a parking lot...Anyway, the problem a person in Brady Hoke's position is faced with is that he doesn't have a truth-finding mechanism in situations like this.  The university and police/justice system are supposed to handle that.  If they come back with a we-don't-know response, I'm not sure what Hoke can do that doesn't risk wrongly depriving a guy of his scholarship (assuming, that is, that the player denies involvement). 

Michigan Arrogance

January 28th, 2014 at 6:58 PM ^

IDK. this isn't a court of law and the s'ship is not an unalienable right. this was clearly (in hindsight away) much more serious than a "he said-she said" bullshit story. boot the kid from the team. boot the dirtbags who confronted the girl.

this shit is reprehensible and "what's fair for the team" should never be in the discussion, even for the coach in these cases.