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 7:17 PM ^

There are a number of hypotheticals here, and we're not going to figure out what happened tonight.  Did the young lady withdraw her formal complaint in 2009 and then re-file in 2013?  (Maybe you can't do that - I don't know.)  Were all complaints of sexual assault regarding students still on campus re-reviewed once the standard was changed?  I don't konw that either, but I suppose it could happen...My only point is that we don't know the mechanics of the process.  They could well make the school look very bad, but we just don't know. 


January 29th, 2014 at 9:09 AM ^

would not have been "re-reviewed" at all.  Changes to procedure would mean that proactively, the University would investigate and take action of a certain kind regarding sexual assault allegations from that point further proactively, not retroactively as to allegations that had already been resolved prior to the changes. 

If my memory serves me, Michigan was pretty desperate for capable kickers during that time.  This incident, contrary to statements on this Blog, that it was widely discussed at the time, has received a startling lack of attention from the University and the athletic department since it took place.  My guess is that the Jamies Winston incident along with the increased scrutiny that this incident received when the most recent article was written, may have resulted in the rattling of some cages.  I don't know.  This don't look good.

State Street

January 28th, 2014 at 6:51 PM ^

Anyone brushing off Hoke's comments as "silly little comments" or "typical coachspeak" is missing the point and is clearly part of the problem.

The crux of this issue is the University went out of their way to cover up this incident.  The Head Football Coach being complicit in that, even up until the final days, is disgusting.  


January 28th, 2014 at 7:36 PM ^

People know about this in 2009, so it's not a secret.  The unversity does in fact investigate and then expel him, so it's not a complete whitewash.  But then Hoke or the department or whomever say that he's gone for family reasons, which is at best a half-truth.  And we don't know what happened with the decision-making process as far as expelling Gibbons or why it all took so long. 


January 28th, 2014 at 6:58 PM ^

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but Hoke said Gibbons was injured while the investigation/process was happening and then later said he was out for family reasons - or at least someone in the AD did.  He may really have been hurt, but at the very least I don't think you announce to the world that a guy may be found to have committed a sexual assault and may be kicked out of school but then again maybe none of these things will happen.  The family issues statement was - if it happened after the decision to expel - the much worse event.  That said, the school did kick him out, so the school and AD are at cross purposes but not working together - at least at the end - to hide anything.


January 28th, 2014 at 6:52 PM ^

so we should reserve judgement of DB, Hoke, Gibbons, etc. (well, maybe not Gibbons)

....that being said, I have a hard time seeing this ending well for any of the three and the University will likely look very, very bad. I wonder if Schlissel might take an opportunity to make a statement as president if this ends up being as bad as it looks...


January 28th, 2014 at 6:52 PM ^

Another, somewhat related downside of this: many hear dislike rumor-mongering muckrackers who stir up dirt just to stir up dirt; this gives instant credibility to at least one of them. Any time you give scorners the moral high ground you've made a big mistake.


January 28th, 2014 at 6:58 PM ^

For something that took place before they got here and for policies/a department they have no control over? The only thing they're on the hook for lying about it after they became aware of the investigation or expulsion, and right now it's not clear of exactly when/what they knew. I certainly hope we find out soon. They won't be able to beat the press off at this point.


January 28th, 2014 at 7:18 PM ^

So we have no idea when the independent University investigation began or whether it was prompted by the new policies, but we're just going to write sweeping conclusions and be morally outraged anyways?

People are getting carried away here.


January 28th, 2014 at 6:58 PM ^

OSCR sucks. I was brought in for the stupidest thing ever (being drunk in a dorm), and the result was 3 more meetings and a corrective measure which was me having to make an anti-drinking presentation. They make the process unecesarily long and painful for the student. So I'm not surprised they messed up something with this.


January 28th, 2014 at 7:01 PM ^

I'm finding it hard to believe that the University, Brandon, or Hoke would go through the trouble of a big cover up just to protect a friggin kicker!  I mean really, why not just give him the boot when the incedent occurred?...  There's something missing here. .


January 28th, 2014 at 8:20 PM ^

The bowl game.  You're missing the bowl game.  They didn't cover it up to protect Gibbons; if they were out to protect Gibbons they'd do the Bobby Bowden shitbag thing and make sure he not only stayed eligible but available to play.

The very obvious move here was to prevent it from getting in the heads of the rest of the team.  Last thing they'd need is to go into a stadium with "guilt by association" effect turning the crowd from neutral to dangerously hostile.

Not that I agree with it. . . I just think that's the Occam's Razor explanation.  Of course:

1) It didn't really matter; Michigan got curb-stomped anyway, and

2) Flat-out lying about it was probably the worst move ever for a coach trying to recruit on a reputation of integrity.

To be honest, I don't doubt Hoke's intentions -- he was trying to keep a serious matter away from players who had nothing to do with it.  But if he wasn't culpable, he was incredibly, inexcusably dumb.

Sione's Flow

January 28th, 2014 at 7:01 PM ^

Perhaps the delay came as a result of OSCR going back through years worth of complaints that under old guidelines were closed but had to be re-investigated. Gibbons case could have been one of possibly dozens of cases that had to be reviewed again. It's possible that the delay was simply due to sheer volume and not some plot by the athletic department to cover this up. But Hoke and Brandon both need to explain why when questioned about Gibbons, they weren't honest about it.

Sione's Flow

January 29th, 2014 at 10:43 AM ^

Also it was mentioned that from 2011-2013, OSCR was evaluating new policies and didn't have it's new formal review process in place until 2013. So if that's correct, then the reviewing of older cases wouldn't have begun until last year. Which would logically explain the delay. So from my best reasoning, the incident happened in 2009, no charges were filed. Case is essentially closed. 2011 rules were changed and OSCR takes two years to finalize updated standards. 2013 OSCR with new guidelines begins re-investigating complaints. So kind of explains the delay with the whole process.



January 28th, 2014 at 7:04 PM ^

This is basically where we all are right now:

None of us know what happened. That will not prevent everyone from presenting Very Firm, Stern Opinions about this whole thing

matty blue

January 28th, 2014 at 7:07 PM ^

i am no fan of the athletic department from dave brandon down, but that stems from a general distaste for what could be described as one of its main functions, specifically the advancement of the michigan sports 'brand' and making it as financially self-supporting as possible.  it's embarassing, but i get it.  money talks, etc.

this is a different kind of embarassing.  the p.r. hit is going to be unbelievable and take years to erase.  renegade programs never really erase that stigma.

this disappoints me far, far more than any loss we've ever had.  ever.


matty blue

January 28th, 2014 at 7:54 PM ^

why are you shouting at me?

perhaps 'fireable offense' is too strong, but if you think that this won't be a total p.r. shitstorm, you are completely delusional.  what hoke or brandon knew or didn't know or when or the specifics of the timeline will matter not one single bit, and you know it.

matty blue

January 29th, 2014 at 8:09 AM ^

i agree that neither should be fired based on what we know at this moment, but i worry that further information will not exactly be kind to either. i also think that both job descriptions implicitly include good and proper stewardship of the football program, and part of that means not exposing it to questions of judgement. every program has idiots - it's how you deal with them that makes or breaks your reputation. dantonio and tressel and meyer have each failed that test on multiple occasions. i hope that brady hoke and brandon have not failed this one.

matty blue

January 28th, 2014 at 10:03 PM ^

if having zero tolerance for anything resembling a coverup makes me reactionary, i guess i am.

i submit that if this exact sequence of events had happened literally anywhere else but Ann Arbor, this board would be lit up with people saying 'sparty no', 'same old columbus,' whatever. i don't know how you can deny that.


January 29th, 2014 at 8:06 AM ^

The fact rival fans act like idiots on mesage boards doesn't make it right.

I think people feel like there is something worse going on here other than the "gears of justice" taking a long time to grind out the result.  I absolutely think that Gibbons did something wrong, and maybe Lewan and someone else was involved in trying to make it go away.  But people acting like this is Penn St. and that a bunch of people in positions of power all conspired to hide information, delay investigations, and protect a kicker accussed of sexual assault is a bridge too far for me.  And guess what, I'd say the same thing if the parties were MSU or OSU.

matty blue

January 29th, 2014 at 3:11 PM ^

this has nothing to do with message-board morons.  it has to do with casual fans - like the sparty fans, who i've heard from several times today - noticing that a michigan player was accused in some sort of sexual misconduct-type incident in 2009 but continued to play until 2013, when he was expelled, apparently for that same incident.  i promise you that that's how it will be viewed.  that IS how it's viewed - i've already heard it, from 'normal' people.

suggesting that the only people talking about it are the lunatic fringe is ridiculous, and suggesting that you'd somehow step back and take some sort of long view if the situation were reversed is even more so.