Helpful Readers Help Unravel Gibbons Questions

Submitted by Seth on January 31st, 2014 at 5:06 PM

[Meta: I thought given the nature of subject it was better to break all this off from Dear Diary.]


Duty Calls (xkcd)

In the wake of news that Brendan Gibbons had been [Michiganese for] expelled for his 2009 rape allegation, there has been precious little more information made available, lots of questions raised, and a whole heck of a lot of judgments from people whose expertise=="I'm on the internet!" I'll admit to personally being one of the latter. However, buried amongst over 2,500 comments in Gibbons-related threads have been a few with actual constructive and helpful experiences to better help us understand what went down and why it took so long. A few suggested they had actual knowledge of the specific events and investigation, or second-hand knowledge speaking to his personality and reputation, but all had credibility concerns. Some were confronted and had their posts deleted when they couldn't back it up; those who named their sources stayed up but none really offer anything definitive.

The Timeline

User Erik_in_Dayton posted and has been updating a rather comprehensive chronology of the things not in debate. They are:

  • Nov. 2009-Jan 2010: Alleged rape occurs off-campus, was reported by the Ann Arbor News. Charges not pressed, end of criminal investigation. Another player, encountering the victim's friend, allegedly threatened the victim if she came forth, and this incident was reported to campus police by two other unidentified players. It is unknown what, if any, steps the university or the football team under Rich Rodriguez took at this time. This is the same month Dave Brandon took over as AD.

  • 2011: Rodriguez fired, Hoke becomes head coach in early January. White House decrees universities have to investigate all alleged on-campus sexual assault cases and use a standard of "preponderance of evidence." UM instituted an interim policy complying with this.
  • 2013: Local gadfly Douglas Smith publishes alleged details of the story on his blog "Washtenaw Watchdog" that purport to include information from the police investigation and information reported to the university, and paint a picture of a clear rape and possible intimidation. University finalizes its policy on September August 19 (MLive) . Gibbons informed there's a preponderance of evidence against him on Nov. 20 (prior to Iowa game); he plays. He doesn't play in the OSU game (he wasn't in pads but according to Upchurch's photos he stood on the sideline during the game), and meets with OSCR the following week, 12/4. On 12/19 he is expelled and sometime shortly after the AD's office supposedly becomes aware of this for the first time. On 12/23 Hoke says he won't travel w/ the team for the bowl game.
  • 2014: Proof of expulsion is leaked to and published by the Michigan Daily. UPDATE: After I posted this Mary Sue Coleman clarified that the university's decision did not involve the AD's office.

[Hit the Jump for best answers to the hard questions]

The Questions

User Cold War provided a few more bits of speculation after the WTKA show that conveniently serve as a starting point for addressing the known unknowns. I present those restated as questions, with counterpoints from the board:

1) Is Gibbons guilty?

The AAPD did not charge Gibbons, let alone convict him. On the other hand reported rapes are far more likely to be actual rapes than false accusations. You cannot completely discount the possibility that the accusation is false, because that happens. There doesn't seem to be a strong reason in this case, however, to disagree with the university's preponderance of whatever evidence they have. It is possible that evidence only covers part of the allegations and that the university is limited by the extent of its jurisdiction.

Public opinion is not held to the same standards as a court of law, and the fact that the university expelled him is strong enough reason to believe Gibbons may be guilty despite the lack of criminal charges.

2) Why didn't I read about this on MGoBlog before now?

I can answer for myself only. There were several points at which this appeared on the board. The first was in 2009, did not give the player's name, and I just didn't see it before the mods of those days unpublished it. The first I ever heard of it was 2011, when Washtenaw Watchdog pulled his stunt of handing out copies of the police report and his version of events at a Regents Board meeting, and this trickled out to the board. Actually a mod at that point had already unpublished it; I read the thread to double-check that decision and ultimately agreed with it.

At that time, given the well-established nature of the accuser (Smith), and the fact that Gibbons hadn't been removed from the team or apparently punished by the university or the justice system, there was a strong enough reason to doubt his guilt that it would not have been right to help publicize the allegations.

The second was last August when the gadfly published much of the same on his blog. At that time I discussed the matter with Brian and we determined to lock the thread (which had already gotten nasty) but to leave it so readers could find it and judge for themselves.

There are 280,000 unique visitors who come here every month, and publicizing a rape allegation would permanently damage that player's reputation. "Publicizing" includes publishing an FOIA'ed report of a case where no charges were brought, because far too many people will take the police report as fact rather than as a report. The effect on the accused would be akin to passing sentence, which is not the media's job. To do so without proof is incredibly irresponsible, Daulerioist even.

Lacking better knowledge, we'll trust that the proceedings of the various levels of justice—legal, campus, team, etc.—are functional. The downside is when they don't function properly we may fail to inform you in a timely fashion. The upside is we won't ever ruin somebody's life and then have to walk that back.

This goes for other players mentioned.

3) Did Rodriguez/Hoke/Dave Brandon believe Gibbons wasn't guilty?

…until at the latest, December 19, 2013 or sometime soon after, when there couldn't have been much more doubt? Maybe? This is a question we'd like answered but given the university's standing behind FERPA for even acknowledgement of the reason he was expelled, and it's a good guess their lawyers have made it clear they're not to be talking any more than they have to, I'm guessing it's going to be very difficult to pry those recollections out of them.

Fuller - 8360111600_8b2dcd9aa0_o
With apologies to Keith Stone.

Some readers questioned why Hoke wasn't forthcoming in the latest stages, e.g. did he know before the Iowa game that Gibbons had received his notice but hadn't appealed or spoken to . The university's reported timeline, which notes (at least someone at) the athletic office was informed on 12/19, is quite plausible since the AD's office is purposely kept out of the disciplinary system until a decision is to be announced.

4) Why did it take until 2013 to investigate an incident nearly 4 years old?

It is unclear and maddening, and the subject of the greatest speculation. Apparently, at least on the criminal level, 4 years to prosecute a rape case isn't unusual because of the psychological trauma to the prosecution's lone witness.

The inferral from the university and the Daily is the university's new policy on investigating all sexual misconduct, as an interim policy from 2011-'12 and a policy that went into effect right before the 2013-'14 school year began, created a different standard by which to judge the case and to initiate an investigation.

It is likely that because the initial incident occurred off campus, though it was, according to the police report, reported through university channels, the university didn't investigate it at the time. It seems likely that their first investigation began under the 2013 policy.

The interim policy and the real one are supposedly very similar, so the question remains why wait until September 2013 instead of launching this in November 2011 (when aforementioned gadfly Smith came to the Regents meeting with his letter). We have no lack for lawyers on the board, and many have speculated the university wouldn't take action (on a public case or any case) until it had an established policy, possibly for fear of the legal ramifications of doing so. That is, again, speculation.

The clearest guess to this answer is there was no criminal charges so nothing happened, and if the White House's mandate and the university's subsequent revision of its policy hadn't happened, nothing would have. Hail to better late than never.

5) If the victim wasn't saying anything, how did they proceed anyway? 

This was pulled from MLive's timeline today:

"The new policy does not require a victim to report an incident in order for it to be investigated. Instead, the university is required to investigate all reports of sexual assault regardless of who makes the report. The standard of proof needed is also lowered."

A complaint may initiate a review but—this is important—it appears it may have gotten nowhere without the cooperation of the victim. This may have been widely misreported by us because the guy who worked at OSCR who gave us context earlier left out an important part and later tried to rectify that:

Yes, my apologies for not making that clear in the initial post. The rules on "standing" to file a complaint are a little sketchy when it comes to *institutional* complainants (i.e. there were many occasions when Housing or DPS would file a complaint that perhaps *could* have been filed by a wronged individual but was *also* a transgression against general Housing/University policies). But in a case like this, the complainant would almost certainly be the sexual assault survivor herself. No need to worry about some random student/professor/staff member reading these allegations on MGoBlog and taking it on himself to file and pursue the complaint with OSCR. Sorry again for the lack of clarity on that topic in the initial post, was trying to fit a lot of information in and missed that fairly major point.

Takeaway: even if she didn't start it, it seems likely the victim cooperated in the 2013 re-investigation that led to Gibbons's expulsion.

6) Was there a cover-up by the university or the football program?

There is no evidence for one. The only action the university appears to have ever done to keep back information is claiming FERPA when asked to confirm the reason Gibbons was expelled. There is suspicion because we never saw any disciplinary action until he missed the Copper Bowl trip this year. The injury that kept him out of the Ohio State game is of course called to question. These all come back to "did Michigan try to hide this for the month after the university made its determination?" There's nothing to suggest a four-year cover-up spanning multiple coaches and ADs.

That said, specifically regarding Gibbons missing the Copper Bowl trip for "family matters," I co-sign this byMGlobules:

There's some annoyance on the board at Hoke's characterization of Gibbons's absence as owing to family problem. I share that annoyance--it's a mischaracterization and tends to elicit sympathy when some more sterile characterization would have done. But this remains a fairly small thing, and might have been what Hoke was instructed to do.

Which is a nicer way of saying this by Bando Calrissian. Lying to journalists: meh. Playing it like he did nothing wrong: wrong and unnecessary.

Motive too is a giant stretch. In late 2009 Michigan's season was over and Gibbons was redshirting. He'd be a plurality participant in the worst kicking season in school history the following fall. He was a decent kicker in 2011, by which time Wile was on hand. A scenario where they protected Gibbons to another player for sticking up for him in an epically stupid manner is facially ridiculous.

7) How do I explain this to Sparty/Bucky on Facebook?

If you're being trolled by someone looking to make a rivalry mark stretch as far as possible, ignore or un-friend this person. Rooting for your kicker to make field goals against their team is not an act that mean you condone horrible actions later found to have been committed by that player. Rooting for maximum PR damage to your rival to the point where you don't even care what the facts represent is as despicable as it is typical of RCMB.

8) How do I explain this to human beings with souls?

The legal system failed, and so did the university until years later when they finalized a policy the White House (i.e. the Education Department) told them to put in place in 2011, because prior to that universities routinely failed their students in this regard and most probably still do.

There's a lot that's unclear, and plenty you should hold the university and its athletic department and its football coach accountable for, even if answers never come. A conspiracy to cover up a rape isn't one of those things.

Also, and I mention this because my friend who worked in SAPAC said it needs to be repeated as much as possible: getting intoxicated impairs your ability to make decisions; it does not forfeit your right to make decisions. If you do get someone who's drunk to do something, and when sober they say they wouldn't have done it, you have made them do something against their will. People sitting around joking about "having sex with drunk chicks" constitutes a rape culture.

9) Brunettes?

It sickens me too. FWIW the shirts were taken down long before we found them to be creepy.



January 31st, 2014 at 5:39 PM ^

For points 8 and 9. I have been so angry about this all week. I'm so pissed of at Gibbons and Lewan for alleged behavior, I could punch them in the face. It would be great to see the athletes (not just FB) participate in sexual assault awareness.

Mabel Pines

January 31st, 2014 at 6:26 PM ^

It saddens me that this occurred to a young woman, took forever to figure out, and takes all the attention away from the Devin Gardners and Matt Wiles of the football world, hard working upstanding (as far as I know) young men.  And it saddens me that I just felt it necessary to add "as far as I know".

Dragon XIII

January 31st, 2014 at 7:58 PM ^

I'm not sure why you feel compelled to think Lewan and Gibbons are scumbags (although you are free to your opinion), or why a proponderance of the evidence makes people assume that Gibbons is guilty of rape.  A proponderance of evidence only requires the barest amount more than 50% (50.1% would surfice).  The simple truth is that we don't know how much evidence there was, which means there could well be 49.9% of a chance that Gibbons is not guilty.  This seems like far too great a chance of innocence for me to judge someone a rapist.  Moreover, we don't know what the university found Gibbons did.  It could have been rape, but it also could have been sexual misconduct of another nature (e.g., kissing/groping someone without consent against their will).  Yeah, this would still be bad, but to me isn't quite the same as raping someone.

As for the article as a whole, I thought it was very informative and appreciate that it published everything in one place.

I do, however, disagree in point 8 that the legal system failed.  The legal system requires that the charges be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury consisting of at least 6 individuals (usualy 12).  Although beyond a reasonable doubt is not--and cannot--be defined in any percentage, it is certainly far greater than the proponderance of evidence standard.  Moreover, the legal system is governed by procedures and rules of evidence that mostly do not apply in administrative actions.  For this reason, I do not think it fair to decry a legal system that was purposefully created so that individuals are not falsy prosecuted.  There are already too many incidents where individuals are found guilty of rape, murder, and other heinous acts by the beyond a reasonable doubt standard, and are later proven to be innocent.  Most of these cases, in fact, rely heavily on the victim's testimony and do not have DNA evidence, much as the situation here.

Finally, one final thought before people come to judge/hate Gibbons in this case: the Universities proceedings are far below and far less reliable than our legal systems.  First, the University's standard of judgement (proponderance of evidence) is far less than the criminal requirements, which decreases the accuracy and reliability of the decision.  Second, the decision is made by as few as one person in the University's system, whereas a criminal proceeding requires at least 6, which increases the chances of bias and decreases the reliability of the decision by the University.  Third, the relaxed rules of evidence in an administrative action allow for a greater chance of bias and unreliability.  Fourth, the University's proceedings are kept secret to the public, whereas criminal proceedings are open to the public; this, again, allows for a greater chance of bias and decreases reliability as the proceedings cannot be evaluated by objective observers.


January 31st, 2014 at 8:19 PM ^

right in the sense that "rape" was not proven by any specific standard, you are wrong in the sense that both of these guys CAN rightfully be considered "scumbags"  I think I can speak for a slient majority that could not be happier that those guys are gone.  Let's not act like Lewan was seriously a good example of a guy we really wanted to get be behind.  I think I can speak for most of us when I say so-long to those fellas, and just be thankful that I don't have to act like I like them for one more second.   If the standard for players on this football team is not higher than that I need to find a different team to cheer for because this one is not for me.  Neg me to death, I can take it.

Mabel Pines

February 1st, 2014 at 8:13 AM ^

I'll rephrase, though.  The HUMAN in me thinks they are scumbags.  The LAWYER in me has not seen the evidence, nor a public hearing. 

I cannot pretend, though, that the University's board just disassociated themselves with Gibbons for no reason.  We all know they were presented with some kind of bad evidence.  They don't just expell people at random.  At least I hope not.

Voltron Blue

January 31st, 2014 at 8:33 PM ^

The key phrase being "more than 50%".  Let's not forget that part before we start throwing around words like "barest amount".  It's not like we're talking about 0.1%.  

I can understand someone saying they're not willing to make a judgment without a higher burden of proof, but not being sure why others are willing to make that judgment when there is a majority of evidence seems a bit much.

To layer on top of that, Gibbons waived his right to appeal.  I recognize he could still be innocent even in light of that fact, but I personally wouldn't count on it.


Dragon XIII

February 1st, 2014 at 1:50 AM ^

I'm not saying that it was by 50.1%, but the point is that it could have been 70%, 60%, 55%, 53%, 51%, etc.  We just don't know.  We also don't know what evidence it was decided on or who made the decision or whether there may have been  bias in the decision or whether Gibbons had any representation.

Sure, he didn't appeal, but that doesn't mean he's guilty either.  If the evidence in this case was her allegations and possibly those of a few others she told (I sincerely doubt there was any eye witnesses in this case), then it would simply have come down to a he said she said situation.  Moreover, it would have been based on their memories of something that happened 4 years ago.  There have been numerous studies that have shown that witness testimony (including eye witnesses and victims), is not nearly as accurate or reliable as we like to think it is.  Moreover, memory of events that happened 4 years ago would be far from accurate.  Yes, there would be police reports, but those to would be based on the victims allegations.  I'm not saying he's innocent or you aren't entitled to your opinion; indeed, I even noted that people are.  I just think we should all step back and consider if more than 50% is enough.  Even beyond a reasonable doubt judgements by 12 jury members have been incorrect and sentenced people to life terms and death.  We have far less than that here.  I wouldn't bet my life on some unknown amount of "more than 50%" and so I don't think I should destroy someone elses on that either.


January 31st, 2014 at 10:29 PM ^

To me it's extremely far-fetched to propose that the University's finding involved "groping and kissing" and not the events described in considerable detail in the extant police report.

I agree that even with the lowered standard of proof there was no finding of rape, because the University's definition of misconduct deals only with the absence of consent and the state of Michigan (rather famously, sexual assault laws like this are referred to as the "Michigan model") requires force or coercion.

But let's not pretend to ignorance we don't have.

Dragon XIII

February 1st, 2014 at 10:59 AM ^

I agree, and I didn't mean to provide an example that minimizes anything and I apologize if I've caused offense.  However, I look at this as an attorney would and I supposed I was trying to make two points without writing too much.  First, is the point that I hope I clarified: that we don't know what the decider of fact in this situation actually found (rape, misconduct, etc.).  Second, we really don't know that he actually raped her according to the lega definition.  From what I've read here, she alleged rape and he defended that they did make out but that it was consentual (unfortunately, I can't find the previous article on here to verify the exact language).  He did not say that they had sex.  Although she said rape, we really don't know whether at that time she knew the legal definition of that offense.  If he forced himself on her, groped her, and repeatedly kissed her against her will (certainly a horrible thing, and I mean not to minimize this horrible act in any way), then she might call that rape.  It certainly would be an impermissable touching.  However, for "rape" most jurisdictions require some sort of penetration, which may not have occured.  Or it may have occured (her definition of rape could very reasonably be the same as the legal one).  We just don't know and that's the point I'm making.  For myself, I choose not to condem another based solely on assumptions made on the conclusions of a system ripe with error (see differences between legal system and administrative).

I write this not to argue with you (both because you are entitled to your opinion and because it seems we largely agree but merely misunderstood each other).  Rather, I write this to clarify in hopes that others don't misunderstand my point.


February 1st, 2014 at 11:28 AM ^

Both parties, in their accounts, acknowledged penetration and it was confirmed by physical evidence. I know a police report is just a police report but when Gibbons's own account includes, in his mind consensual, sex, i don't know why anyone would doubt that sex occurred.

There's dispute as to consent, there's a question as to force or coercion. The particular item you've chosen to cast as doubtful, isn't.


February 1st, 2014 at 1:49 PM ^

Unless you are of the opinion that sex with an intoxicated person is always rape, I don't think you need to take back the comment--consent and force are still at issue.

Gibbons's statement is at Smith's website. Whatever justified criticism there might be of Smith's editing of the report (he has lengthy excerpts that may well constitute the entire report but I don't see a link to the raw report without breaks), I don't think there's any doubt left on this particular point.

Dragon XIII

February 1st, 2014 at 3:30 PM ^

I mean to say I take back the argument on issue of whether it was only groping/etc. and whether there was penetration involved.  If both parties admit to sex then I see no point doubting that that occurred.  My other points concerning the issues and problems I have with relying on an administrative body remain.

Year of Revenge II

February 1st, 2014 at 8:25 AM ^

Yes, legal system did not fail, it worked.  Proves to me yet again that, much to my chagrin many times after years of criticizing the system for its imperfections, that while our legal system is not perfect, it assuredly is the best one out there.

While his deduction about the legal system is clearly inaccurate, kudos to the OP for his work and summary. It is good.

Agree with Dragon XIII wholeheartedly. Great post.

Mabel Pines

February 1st, 2014 at 9:05 AM ^

complaining witness to testify, so yes, no criminal case to go forward with and legal system worked.  (my background- I'm an attorney who has worked both criminal prosecution and defense)

That being said, the University of Michigan had some evidence to throw him out and disassociate with this guy (who is in the football record books.  Maybe?-eeek, what do they do about that?)  Also, he's not appealing.  You better believe I'm fighting it to my dying breath if I'm accused of sexual misconduct.  I would be giving interviews right now to clear my name and discredit the Universitiy's findings.

Therefore, I see your arguments, but sorry, sticking with scumbag.  Something bad happened.  We all know it.

Section 1

February 1st, 2014 at 10:20 AM ^

The legal system did not "fail."  There is no basis for Seth to have made that pronouncement.

And yes; what we do know about this system is that Gibbons may have been judged by someone who may well have been disqualified as a simple juror if Gibbons was being tried for CSC in a Michigan Circuit Court.  To wit; let's suppose a CSC trial in Wahstenaw County Circuit Court, and we are in the jury-selection phase.  It is voir dire, and Juror Number 8 is a University of Michigan employee who is trained in rape counseling/restorative justice and has counseled rape victims.  I think that juror might be challenged for cause.  The juror would certainly be subject to a peremptory challenge.

And with that sort of trier of fact (we don't know, and I'd like to know, who it was), Gibbons may have been found to have simply had sex that he genuinely believed to have been consensual, but the alleged victim was (perhaps with the help of after-the-fact toxicology) too drunk to have given "valid consent."

Again, I know of no evidence to suggest that the legal system "failed," and plenty of evidence to suggest to all of us that we would have been better served by a public jury trial of this case.  It would have been public; Gibbons' due process rights would have been preserved; we'd have confidence in the outcome; Brady Hoke would not have had to comment; Dave Brandon would not now be accused of a coverup; and there'd be no public relations disaster for the University.


Dragon XIII

February 1st, 2014 at 11:20 AM ^

You and I as attorneys might well appeal to our deaths; however, I have met and heard of many people that don't appeal decisions that I thought they should.  Moreover, the reasons they have to do so are their decisions and in many situations appear reasonable.  First, Gibbons likely was not represented.  Second, if the evidence against him was primarily built on what the victim said, then that would be very difficult to disprove.  Third, we don't know what the standard of review would be (substantial evidence, clear error, de novo); depending on the standard of review, an appeal might be extremely unlikely to succeed.  If you have only a 5% chance of success, then you might think that appealing, starting the spring sememster (to which you will have to pay for), dealing with the stress associated with both, and not knowing when that decision would be reached (a few weeks, a month, half way through the semester?), then it might not be an unreasonable decision to cut your losses.  To put it another way, how many people take plea deals even though they disagree with the charges or decision?  How many pay various tickets they disagree with merely because fighting them is too difficult or they don't expect to win.

As for giving interviews, it seems reasonable to me that he wouldn't want to make this a bigger issue.  The decision was supposed to be kept confidential.  He chose not to appeal.  What kind of interview could he give that would instantly clear his name and convince everyone out there that he's a good guy?  The mere accusation of rape or sexual misconduct is often enough for people to assume that you did it.  An interview, however, would only make this a bigger deal that would be picked up by more news agencies.


January 31st, 2014 at 11:34 PM ^

Seth writes:

"If you do get someone who's drunk to do something, and when sober they say they wouldn't have done it, you have made them do something against their will. People sitting around joking about "having sex with drunk chicks" constitutes a rape culture."

That is practically verbatim from what I remember of the annual sexual assault prevention training all athletes, male and female had to undergo every year at NU. We would all meet in the basketball arena with our coaches and take part in a couple hour course. One year they brought in a women's defense class to show how to protect yourself and to show guys what might happen if you drunkenly approach/grope a woman who has been trained in defense (hint: a lot of painful shots to your testicles and jaw in a quick hurry) I would be shocked if UofM and the rest of the Big Ten didnt have similar mandatory training.


February 1st, 2014 at 8:54 AM ^

Regarding paragraph 1, how do you determine that you wouldn't have, at that time, desired something? While these allegations are horrible, I'm not sure what to make of the paragraph. If i get drunk and (write a blog post :-) sign a contract, commit a crime, buy an item, etc. I'm responsible for it.

if I'm drunk and commit an act that id later regret, i don't understand how blame can be issued onto the other person? If drunk me buys a shirt from mgoblog, is mgoblog a thief?

/probs misunderstood it all


February 1st, 2014 at 11:19 PM ^

I have a bit of a issue with that part as well.  The first part makes sense.  Getting drunk does not forfeit your right to make decisions.  But the next sentence must not have come out as intended.  Just because you regret a drunk decision once you sober up DOES NOT mean you did something against your will.  Now, if you were too drunk to make the decision at all, that's another story.  And that's what I thought the first sentence was getting at.  But a drunk decision is still a decision.  I think the buying a shirt/making a blog post analogy is a sound one. 



January 31st, 2014 at 5:45 PM ^

I think we've finally sorted out the following (though I hasten to add that I am not a higher ed lawer - or the lawyer of anyone reading this):

It appears that a school can say that a given person is or is not enrolled - this under the "directory" exception.  This is with the caveat that a student can elect to be an exception to the directory exception, so to speak, and not have such information made public.

Second, a school can apparently release the fact that a student has been expelled and the violation that led to the expulsion.

Beyond that, I do not think a school - or Michigan, more to the point - can reveal the details of an investigation like the one that happened here. 

I post this hoping that it will help clarify things going forward.  If I turn out to be wrong, well hey, I said I wasn't your lawyer.   


January 31st, 2014 at 5:49 PM ^

Hoke shouldn't have commented on that, then.  How hard is it to say you aren't speaking about an individual or a topic?  Being "cute" with the media is one thing.  Flat out misleading the fans and the general public is another.  I'd like to see some integrity pumped back into big time athletics, specifically football.  Thanks for all the great work Erik.


January 31st, 2014 at 5:58 PM ^

FWIW, I'm not as upset about the "family matter" comment as some people, but a couple of posters I was going back and forth with earlier today convinced me that I wasn't taking it seriously enough either.  I'm about 7 out of 10 on the unhappiness scale with the comment at this point.  Not a firing offense, but something to learn from for sure.


Bando Calrissian

January 31st, 2014 at 6:13 PM ^

I think a lot of the critiques towards those of us who take issue with the "family matters" quote think we're expecting Hoke to go out there and chapter-and-verse say exactly what happened. That's not what I'm asking for when I criticize Hoke for the way he handled this, nor is that what others are asking for.

Nor are we calling it a fireable offense, because it's not. It is, as you said, a learning moment, but one with much deeper implications than just another "boo-boo" story during Minnesota week.

My point is why would you do anything to leave even a modicum of space for criticism towards how your football program handled a situation involving sexual misconduct? I'm not saying this to indicate any kind of equivalency, but didn't we all learn from the Jerry Sandusky case at PSU that when it comes to sexual misconduct, you have to make sure all your ducks are in a row when it comes to message, which includes being as honest and truthful as you are legally allowed to be when questioned about something like this? Why say it's a "family matter" when he could have just as easily said something that equally gets the message across that Gibbons isn't going to the bowl, without the cutesy half-truth?

All Hoke had to say was "Gibbons will not be traveling with the team to Arizona, and that's all I will be saying about it. Next question." Instead, we get "family matters." Yes, it's semantics. But it also leaves needless space for criticism in a potentially explosive news story. Again, I point to how Michigan State handled Max Bullough. No one is playing amateur FERPA lawyer about the way Hollis and Dantonio handled that one.

Again, I'm not asking for full disclosure. Not in the slightest. I'm just asking Hoke to only say what needed to be said, not use a term that could be interpreted in any number of ways that don't necessarily involve action taken in regards to a suspected sexual assault.

Leaders And Best

January 31st, 2014 at 6:21 PM ^

Is that was exactly how JT Floyd and Brandin Hawthorne's absences were handled for the Cap One Bowl the year prior if I remember correctly: violation of team rules. I don't understand why this one was handled differently. I don't want to speculate because there is so much we don't know. It's just as possible we are overanalyzing a poor choice of words by Hoke (we already know he is not a wordsmith) as it could be that he was being misleading/lying about Gibbons.


February 1st, 2014 at 3:28 AM ^

but he could'nt handle it the same because it isnt the same. He was'nt playing because of a violation of team rules. The team didnt discipline him. He was expelled by the school. Again its all semantics. If anything should have been changed as Bando said earlier, just say he isnt traveling with the team.


February 1st, 2014 at 12:04 PM ^

he's not traveling with the team is evasive as well.  Then there would be the very natural follow up question, why isn't he traveling with the team?  Now what do you have Hoke saying.

This all presupposes he knew that he was being evasive on December 23rd, and there has yet to be one shred of proof to support that idea.


February 1st, 2014 at 12:41 PM ^

Exactly.  The assumption that he knew Gibbons's actual status is the basis for all of the criticism of Hoke, it seems to me, and that assumption is groundless.  The problem I have with that entire approach is that it is completely circular: "Hoke could easily have told the truth but issued a misleading statement. It was misleading because he knew the truuth and still said that Gibbons wasn't with the team because Gibbons was dealing with family issues.  Hoke knew the truth because I cannot believe he didn't know the truth.'

The conclusion that Hoke was "lying" comes from the assumption that he was lying.  That's just an assumption, though.

Hoke not knowing is, of course, the best outcome for the university.  It is also the only outcome for which there is evidence:  Hoke's own statement.  As even those who think he was lying or misleading concede, he could easily have not lied or misled.  They haven't presented any motive for him to have lied/misled, nor any evidence that he did.  In the absence of such evidence, the simplest assumption is that he believed exactly what he said.


January 31st, 2014 at 7:33 PM ^

Hoke's misleading statements are not what bothers me the most. The fact that bothers me is that when Hoke took over, he did not do sufficient investigation to make sure having Gibbons on the team was not going to come back to stain the program.

There is no reason for a coach or the program to adopt, no charges no problem, stance.

He should have reviewed the police report, spoke with Gibbons in earnest and kicked him off the team if he had any doubt.

He may get off this incident on technicality, but if something like this ever happens again, he should be dismissed immediately.


January 31st, 2014 at 7:40 PM ^

Nobody else has, could you provide the evidence that supports your statement that Hoke provided misleading statements?

Two, why do you put an onus on Hoke about something that was closed by the Ann Arbor PD and Washtenaw County, and by the university, prior to Hoke having been hired?