UPDATE: The federal Office of Civil Rights is investigating the University of Michigan’s handling of the case, according to a report from the Detroit Free Press on Feb. 25. Our original story can be found below:
According to the Michigan Daily, former University of Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons was expelled on Dec. 20 for allegedly violating the school’s policy on sexual misconduct.
Gibbons was reportedly sent a letter informing him of this on Dec. 19 in a letter from the University. The letter went on to say this stemmed from an investigation involving an incident that took place in the early hours of Nov. 22, 2009.
No criminal charges were ever filed, but the university process works independently of the criminal justice system, according to the school.
Gibbons, a graduate student, did not make the trip with the team to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Dec. 28, which makes perfect sense now if what is being reported by the Michigan Daily is true. Head football coach Brady Hoke said that he was back in Florida tending to a family matter.
Gibbons also missed the last game of the regular season on Nov. 29 vs. Ohio State due to an alleged leg injury.
According to a letter sent from the university’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution to Gibbons on Nov. 20 obtained by the Michigan Daily, he “engaged in unwanted or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, committed without valid consent, and that conduct was so severe as to create a hostile, offensive, or abusive environment.”
On Dec. 16 during preparation for the bowl game, Hoke said,””He’s a little iffy. He’s kicking a little bit. But I don’t want to over-kick him.”
“I’ve never been a kicker, so I can’t imagine that (muscle pull) problem. So, he’s a little iffy.”
Hoke and Dave Brandon, Michigan’s athletic director, had to have known something about Gibbons’ status well before he was expelled on Dec. 20. This was not an issue that popped up out of the blue. The university had reportedly shelved the investigation rather quickly, but was picked back up again in 2011 due to some revised policies.
It would be irresponsible to cry “cover up” or say that anyone in the program lied about this incident, but the timeline of events is strange and there is not a ton of information on this at the moment.
If the University of Michigan determined that the act took place in the Nov. 20 letter to Gibbons, he should have been thrown off the team, period. Why drag it out and spread perceived propaganda? What did Michigan or Brendan Gibbons have to gain by sweeping this under the rug until after the season?
These are questions that hopefully will be answered soon, because the longer that Gibbons and Michigan stay quiet on this topic, the more questions will pop up.
To call Hoke a liar would be a bit much at this point, but it is clear that he goes out of his way to protect his players. For example, when quarterback Devin Gardner was injured in the game against OSU and throughout bowl practices, Hoke stated it was a turf toe injury. Later reports surfaced that Gardner had suffered a broken foot and was on crutches and in a walking boot.
Again, why lie about that? It seems silly.
The athletic department is not allowed to comment on any issues like this because of protection of student records. So, basically, if anything is going to be said, it will have to come from Gibbons.
Michigan has enough problems with their on-field product. Distractions off of it certainly will not help, either. There are a ton of issues with this program right now, and hopefully someone will step up and be a leader and set the record straight.
Do not count on it, though.
“This is Michigan.”
What exactly is it? We are still waiting on someone to explain that.