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 28th, 2014 at 7:21 PM ^

... from the University of Michigan"

Does it go on to say "...for the alleged rape of a fellow student."?

I am just curious. 

I would like to know how the 2 and 2 got put together. Seriously just wondering.


EDIT: My bad. I just reread the MD article and saw the additional info...

03 Blue 07

January 28th, 2014 at 7:34 PM ^

We have zero evidence? Really? We have the police reports, which I've read (and assume you have as well) which are from, you know, 2009. The accuser? Also a student. Also a varsity athlete, in fact. Other documents include the Wellness Check report, from DPS, who'd been alerted by the Office of Student Affairs. That's dated December, 2009. 

Four years later he is expelled. So yeah, I'm assuming that the University started, you know, looking into things back in 2009. 

Hey, maybe the University investigation was closed and reopened. But the concept that the University was unaware in 2009 is asinine. 

My mouth is agape at people who are contrarians just to be contrarians. I guess I'm outraged at your contrarian outrage. 


January 28th, 2014 at 7:56 PM ^

We have evidence that the police investigated in 2009.  Outside of that, we don't know when the intial Univeristy investigation began, why it was renewed (although the new policy seems the most likely reason), or when it was renewed.  You do realize that the standard of proof in sexual misconduct cases at the University was changed from "clear and convincing evidence" to "preponderance of the evidence" in the fall of 2011, right?  And you know that Title IX coordinator wasn't required to independently review claims until the fall of 2011?  Obviously, the University was intitially aware of the charges in 2009.  That fact is completley meaningless.


January 28th, 2014 at 7:13 PM ^

I just don't get the incredible outrage here.  The biggest problem I see is that Hoke claimed this was a family issue when it wasn't.  Yes, that's unacceptable. 

Aside from that, there is zero evidence that the University did anything but follow procedures by the book for handling sexual misconduct cases. 

Kilgore Trout

January 28th, 2014 at 8:19 PM ^

Hoke gave the family issues reason on 12/23. Gibbons was separated on 12/20. So either Hoke didn't know one of his players was no longer a student or he lied. Based on the timing in the Daily article and the presser when the team arrived in AZ, there doesn't seem to be any other possibility.


Kilgore Trout

January 28th, 2014 at 10:11 PM ^

"KICKING IT: Fifth-year senior kicker Brendan Gibbons has played his last game as a Wolverine. Hoke told reporters Monday that Gibbons isn’t on the trip and will not participate in the bowl game due to a “family matter” in his native Florida."

So unless you're accusing Matt Slovin of making up the quote, I think you're off here.…


January 28th, 2014 at 11:17 PM ^

The original title was "people be making things up", because they are. I changed it because I didn't want you to think I was only talking about you. But you did say Hoke said "Gibbons out due to family issues" at the presser, which he did not do. The Slovin quote could be as bad as Hoke being the sole author of the family issues lie, or it could be that reporters were given a statement from the AD and when someone asked Hoke to confirm the offical AD line he said something like "Yeah". I wasn't there, so I don't know. I guess I'm hoping the family issues thing was Brandon's idea because I already know Brandon is a liar and I don't want to live in a world where Brady Hoke is too.


January 29th, 2014 at 12:20 AM ^

I'm not quite understaing why folks are freaking the fuck out about Hoke calling it "family issue". Not his shining moment, for sure, but it's not like he's every been pressers anyway. I just don't get the OUTRAGE directed at him. Some think it's a fireable offense? I mean...really?

There is still a lot to learn here. I'm not about ready to villify Hoke or anyone else yet, but the whole thing is strange and confusing, and a huge cause for concern.


January 28th, 2014 at 7:14 PM ^

When Hoke became aware of the situation is what I would like to know. With issues like this transparency is key. You would think coaches would understand that, especially given the nature of this issue. Sadly a young woman's life was changed and nothing came of it until 4 yrs later at which point the punishment is insignificant. He has a degree and the chance to play football. Sad that the system is what it is.


January 28th, 2014 at 7:14 PM ^

Brian, how can you claim the University was 50.1% sure?   After all, Lloyd Carr used to say, that if there was even rumor of misdeed by a player, that he'd suspend them.  Fact is that if Hoke viewed punishment for simply putting oneself in a position like that in first place, then the University wouldn't quite be so sure of 50.1%......

Bando Calrissian

January 28th, 2014 at 7:14 PM ^

From the Daily piece:

"Dave Ablauf, an associate athletic director and spokesman for the Athletic Department, declined to comment, noting that it was the first time it had been suggested to him that Gibbons was permanently separated."

This is just scummy. There is approximately a 0% chance Athletics didn't know a student-athlete for whom they were paying tuition and other scholarship costs, was expelled.


January 29th, 2014 at 10:55 AM ^

Man, I wish I had your infallible knowledge of the truth.  A "0% chance" that "Atheltics" (whoever he is) didn't know that a student, for whom they may not have been paying anything, since he had graduated and not enrolled in January, had actually been kicked out rather than simply dropping out?  Bullshit.  You know no such thing, and it is disingeuous to imply that you do.

Bando Calrissian

January 29th, 2014 at 11:45 AM ^

1. Gibbons was a graduate student in the School of Social Work for the 2013-4 academic year.

2. "Athletics" is the Athletic Department, who pays the money for Gibbons' scholarship (tuition, room and board, etc.).

3. Why would the University expel someone who wasn't even an enrolled student to begin with?


January 29th, 2014 at 1:42 PM ^

1.  Enrollment at Michigan is by semester, not by school year.    Gibbons was a graduate student and a fifth-year senior as far as athletic eligability.

2.  The Winter 2014 semester hadn't begun, and the fall 2013 semester was over.  No one was paying any scholarship money to Gibbons.

3.  I have no idea why the University would expel someone who wasn't an enrolled student, nor have I even heard of this as a concept.  What non-student do you think the University expelled, and when did that happen?


January 28th, 2014 at 7:59 PM ^

how many people here would rather cover for the football team or are more inclined to sympathize with Gibbons than a person who it is established that something awful happened to, this isn't cool. If the point that "family matter" casts Gibbons in a sympathetic light when something closer to the truth or no comment at all would have served is too hard for some to get, tough. 

EDIT: Actually very impressed with the tenor of comments here, a contrast to some of what I saw in the Gibbons thread. 

03 Blue 07

January 28th, 2014 at 7:15 PM ^

I'm legitimately anxious for Section 1's take on this story, as he has been the staunchest defender of Gibbons (and Lewan) throughout the discussions about this incident; unless new evidence has come to light, does he still defend Gibbons as staunchly, given that the University saw fit to kick him out, even though the prosecutor didn't proceed with a case? 


January 28th, 2014 at 7:18 PM ^

navel gazing, self-loathing, and readiness to lynch somebody, anybody for the last four years?  Nothing new was revealed today, nothing.  Everybody now commenting about coverups etc. knew years ago that "credible" allegations had been made.  Where were your demands for an investigation?  Where were your you demands for a suspension until the matter was cleared up?  Where was your concern for the victim these past four years?

Yesterday you were happy as clams.  You knew about the allegations but you didn't "know" about the allegations.  Today you "know" so today you have self-righteous outrage.  Give me a break.  

Magnum P.I.

January 29th, 2014 at 1:32 AM ^

What the hell are you talking about? Prior to today, the "evidence" that Gibbons had done something wrong was a hack article and RCBM posts. 

The new evidence is that the University of Michigan expelled him for sexual assault. I'd say that constitutes a significant development and indication of wrong-doing. 

I would caution the defenders of Gibbons and "due process" to back off a little. You're really making yourselves look bad. Only on a sports blog. 


January 28th, 2014 at 7:33 PM ^

That's very false. Something new WAS revealed today. We are now aware that a group responsible for fair investigations of such things has determined that there was sufficient evidence that Gibbons was involved in sexual misconduct to the degreee that the University of Michigan decided to PERMANENTLY SEPARATE from him.


THAT'S a big difference from what we knew before, when there were only rumors, allegations and a police investigation that brought no charges.

Mr. Yost

January 28th, 2014 at 7:21 PM ^

I can't truly support the University of Michigan football program until I understand what happened and why this looks the way it does. They lied. Period.

Why not just say "violation of university policy"...not even team rules.

Sure, it sounds like he cheated on an exam, but stll, don't lie about a hamstring injury and basically lie about a death in the family.

This is gross and I'm offended.


...and no jokes, about brunettes, and ban-hammer any idiot that does.

Shop Smart Sho…

January 28th, 2014 at 8:35 PM ^

Your first sentence is what I'm stuck on right now.  I haven't sent in the money for my PSDs.  Knowing what we know now, and the allegations against Lewan, it makes me wonder if I want to financially support an athletic program that is willing to lie about this stuff.


January 28th, 2014 at 7:30 PM ^

None of this makes much sense to me.  There needs to be a better timeline written about when complaints were filed, and how the university handled the entire process.  


January 28th, 2014 at 7:33 PM ^

Isn't it possible that if revised policies from 2011 forced a re-evaluation of this case that there were many other cases to re-evaluate as well?  I would imagine, sadly, that there were more instances of similar conduct amongst the general student population during this time frame and there may have been a significant backlog of cases to review.  That could explain the time that it took to come to this conclusion.

To be clear, I'm not excusing or defending the actions of the persons involved, only providing a possible explanation for the delay in the final decision since the new policies were enacted in 2011.