Brendan Gibbons Expelled, Untruths Rampant

Submitted by Brian on 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 29th, 2014 at 10:29 AM ^

How would Hoke find out?  The school can't say much, even to Hoke, because of student privacy laws. Gibbons doesn't have an incentive to tell Hoke the truth, because he only had a couple of weeks left in his Michigan career, anyway.

The standard of "I just don't believe he wouldn't know" is a pretty fucking low standard on which to base accusation of lying.

Michigan Arrogance

January 28th, 2014 at 7:16 PM ^

IDK the details of that Duke case anymore, but if I'm a coach and I hear that X player is alleged to have sexually assaulted a girl and that Y & Z players confronted the girl to shut her mouth about it, I suspend them ASAP until any other facts come out. In rape cases, the burden of proof should be on the male. NOTE: this is not a court of law.




January 29th, 2014 at 12:54 AM ^

I'm not going to argue against due process, whether its in university proceedings or legal proceedings.  We can agree to disagree.  I'm not insensitive to the diffiuclty in reporting and prosecuting such crimes, but justice and punishment should be meted out according to established laws, and not because we are offended at a circumstance.  


January 28th, 2014 at 8:35 PM ^

I was going to write in defense of Hoke, but as I was writing I didn't even believe what I was writing.

Fact of the matter is Hoke lied and got caught. I actually think he should have to address the issue and if his answers aren't legitimate he should be let go.  That is how serious this is to me.




January 28th, 2014 at 10:41 PM ^

The issue to me isn't that Hoke didn't investigate or kick Gibbons off the team earlier. As stated above, he is dependent on other investigative agencies. However, Gibbons did not play in 2 games, evidently because it was known he was going to be expelled. Hoke just needed to say that Gibbons was missing those games for a violation of team rules. If the truth came out at that point, so be it.
The more I think about it, the more I feel this is more serious than the behavior which resulted in Moeller being fired.


January 29th, 2014 at 8:59 AM ^

Given the timeline, it is very likely for the OSU game that Hoke did NOT know "he was going to be expelled" as you say. The timeline makes it clear that Hoke knows Gibbons was being investigated so he held him out but I dont think it would have been approproate to say "violation of team rules" if all Hoke knew was an investigation was going on. According to timeline, Gibbons didnt even meet to discuss charges until Dec 4th so no way it was certain he was going to be expelled then.

Clearly the bowl game is another matter. Regarding his comments on the 16th, at the point it still may have been the case that he didnt know so just saying he is iffy doesnt seem inappropriate. After the expulsion, then the "family issues" comment is the one that is questionable...clearly he and his family did have issues at that point but its hard to make the case that a simple statement that he is no longer on the team with no comment for the reason would be better and wouldnt seem to break and privacy laws.


January 28th, 2014 at 6:59 PM ^

but the call might not have been so clear to the AD. If he isn't found guilty of anything legally then what does the University do even if they strongly suspect something happened? Can they expell a guy because they heard something may have happened?

Certainly a rape convinction gets you tossed right out the door, but what about a sexual assault charge that gets dropped? Making the wrong choice gets you burned either way. Not advocating that he should have been kept, just suggesting they may not have had enough concrete evidence to toss him before

Edit: Erik beat me to it


January 28th, 2014 at 10:10 PM ^

OBVIOUS CAVEAT: I'm responding to the above comment and not directly to the Gibbons case.

Wow, so all you think it should take to expel someone and ruin their future is an accusation? And then they have to PROVE their innocence? In a process in which they rarely have access to a lawyer, the ability to subpoena or even call witnesses, or question their accuser?

By all means, punish the hell out of rapists. But let's not minimize the negative impact of these proceedings on the accused. Expulsion is a big deal, and shouldn't rest on he said she said.


January 28th, 2014 at 10:47 PM ^

A suspension can still set you back a semester, with all the costs and GPA implications of that (unless you're only referring to football players).

And preponderance of evidence, meaning a bare majority i.e. 50.1%, is pretty weak tea for an expulsion + the lifetime label "expelled for rape".

I think if you were familiar with the utter lack of rights of the accused in these campus tribunals you'd be hesitant to apply that standard. See this article, where a lawyer's son was nearly railroaded by the process, given essentially zero rights and forced to appear before an untrained "tribunal" playing judge jury and executioner.…

Michigan Arrogance

January 29th, 2014 at 12:26 AM ^

think about the alternatve (that was the case back in 2009 apparently- at the time of the original incident) 20-30% is pretty weak tea for an aquittal + the lifetime label "he didn't do anything wrong- which means you (the woman) did". and that's not even bringing the court standard (beyond a reasonable doubt: 1 or 5%) to bare.


so far, this is case #3 (duke, Auburn) of a false acusation I've heard about today. this is NOTHING compared to the absolute EPIDEMIC that is unconvicted  and unreported rapists and sexual assulters in this country.


January 29th, 2014 at 12:41 AM ^

No, 20-30% does not mean "the girl did something wrong", absolutely not. But it sure as hell does (or should) mean "we're unsure enough about what exactly happened that we ought to hold off on adding further life-altering consequences to this bad situation". Especially when the "investigators" are amatuers and due process isn't even considered.

"Innocent until proven guilty" exists for a reason. You don't solve the issue of unpunished crimes by eliminating all rights of the accused so you can guarantee a conviction.

Or did they not teach "two wrongs don't make a right" where you went to kindergarten.



Michigan Arrogance

January 29th, 2014 at 7:12 AM ^

"Innocent until proven guilty" exists for a reason. You don't solve the issue of unpunished crimes by eliminating all rights of the accused so you can guarantee a conviction.

this is not a court of law (TM)

all I would argue for is that the alleged vicitm be allowed a more equitable threshold of due process than what has been seen in the past. the preponderance of evidence does just that.


January 29th, 2014 at 9:06 AM ^

No, it's not a court of law, but it is a public institution and the punishments are on a level of severity similar to many criminal proceedings - expulsion is a big deal.

You claim to want a "more equitable burden of proof" but you ignore the lack of process allowed the accused, and your constant fallback to statistics of unpunished sexual assault suggests a baked in bias wherein the real standard is "if he's accused he's guilty".

P.S. I'd encourage you to look into the provenance of your statistics. Many of the most oft-cited statistics on sexual assault (i.e. 1 in 4) were derived from studies with let's say questionable methodology that would not stand up to scrutiny in a less emotionally and politically charged field of inquiry.


January 29th, 2014 at 11:24 AM ^

I get your point of view and you've written things in both threads that I agree with, but this is utterly nuts.

"I think an acusation should lead to suspension until the investigation is concluded."

Really? Have you thought through the real world implications of this at all?

Of how such a set up could be abused?

I think you need to think up a new solution, because you've completely lost the plot with this one.

I, for one, believe there absolutely is a rape culture in young America and in the way society deals with that young America - I also think that society's skewed assignation of value has led to countless atrocities like Steubenville and the Maryland situation - situations that literally make me sick - but I find your suggested solution deeply unsettling.

Key Play

January 28th, 2014 at 6:34 PM ^

The university can not comment on students academic records without their consent. 


Likely university lawyers were following the law by instructing Hoke to not discuss what happened.  The correct response was no comment, but he said something he thought was innocous. Not excusing Hoke's response, but I have a hard time believing Hoke was lying to cover something up. 


The Daily article stands for itself and sheds light on the sexual misconduct policy and how the recent changes likely led to the university re-investigation. 


I commend the former OSCR worker for his insights, but remind him that the policy has changed very recently-… from September 2, 2013.  Obviously, whether the investigation should have started again in 2011 or 2013 is a different and maybe more legitimate question.  If the policy was changed in September, then November is a typical investigation and Gibbons was held out of any team activity once a determination was made. 


January 28th, 2014 at 6:38 PM ^

I'm not sure who gains from Hoke saying, "Our guy is currently under investigation for rape, and we should know something soon." 

The much bigger issue, in my mind, is whether the process was dragged out b/c Gibbons was a football player.  What Hoke says to the media doesn't strike me as important.  What's important is the actions the university and football team take re: Gibbons being part of the school/team.


January 28th, 2014 at 6:54 PM ^

I'm less convinced that the injury story was fake than you are, fwiw.  I don't recall Hoke soft-pedaling mistakes by Frank Clark and others.  It strikes me as Hoke-like not to talk about this until it's decided, but it doesn't strike me as Hoke-like to lie about it, and there was no need to lie about it.

EDIT: I posted this thinking only about the injury and not about the "family issues" statement.  That does seem implausible.


January 29th, 2014 at 10:42 AM ^

But, when did Hoke know he was expelled?  The school doesn't publicize these thiongs; in fact, as the story noted, the U was careful NOT to name Gibbons in any documents that were available to the public.  Suppose Gibbons lied to Hoke about his situation, out of shame or whatever?  That scenario seems to fit the facts better than the one where Hoke just woke up one day and decided to lie for no particular reason.


January 29th, 2014 at 2:52 PM ^

I can't give you a time when Hoke knew, but the expulsion meant Gibbons wasn't allowed to participate in any UM activities. If the University didn't alert Hoke to that change in status that is a major administrative flaw. (This occurred during a break; if it occurred mid-semester, I would expect the school to have a process to notify all professors of classes where a student is enrolled). In addition, surely Hoke had a discussion with Gibbons that would have alerted him to a non-family problem. Gibbons didn't just not show up to practice/therapy.

If Hoke can convince me that he didn't know, and had no way of knowing, about the expulsion I will revise my opinion of him. If his reputation for integrity is important to him he will have to address the issue. Until that time I won't consider him to be an honest person.

Key Play

January 28th, 2014 at 6:52 PM ^

I agree, he should have said no comment.  Is this a firable offense? Should he be mandated to attend a sexual misconduct policy? that's not my call nor yours.  I think more the latter than the former.


I'm sure he's going to get plenty of flak for this and it will be a black eye on both the university and the program.  This will be a big story and only a few people know the facts.  If he did it, then he is a scumbag no question.  

Gulo Blue

January 28th, 2014 at 8:37 PM ^

"The University has adopted a new policy for how it responds to student sexual-misconduct allegations, transitioning from a complainant-driven model to one driven by University investigators.

Per the policy, the University has assumed the burden of internally investigating all allegations of student sexual misconduct, which includes allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault."


January 28th, 2014 at 6:46 PM ^

Seriously.  Could result in a hefty $ drop IFwhat has been floated is believed.  Not to mention the loss of respect/admiration by this MIc higan fan and I hope many others.  And what was floated regarding Gibbons seems to be believed by at least the University of Michigan.


January 29th, 2014 at 12:19 AM ^

The reason for smacking it down then was valid - the only verifiable information was a police report from which no charges were filed and an article by a guy with a known axe to grind. The fact that something came of it (based on a university proceeding and a preponderance of evidence standard) does not negate the uncertainty at the time. And there's still a lot of uncertainty, so the moral high-horsers way back when are not really vindicated here.

(Basically, "it turns out I was right" is not a valid excuse for jumping to conclusions).


January 28th, 2014 at 6:42 PM ^

Well now that it's out in the open, I assume some more clear answers will be forth coming as to the timing and who knew when as it came to the expulsion. But also of concern is that the University is not a court and does not require the burden of criminal proof that our society has judged as necessary for our courts.