Michigan didn’t invite the Michigan Daily, the student outlet that broke the Brendan Gibbons story, to a press conference or small gathering where Brady Hoke addressed it. It’s the latest incident in a pattern of stonewalling, raising a cloud of suspicion about Michigan’s handling of it.
Gibbons was arrested and questioned after a reported sexual assault in Nov. 2009. He was not charged and the case was closed by Ann Arbor police after the victim stopped cooperating. Gibbons was expelled by Michigan (effective Dec. 20, 2013) with the school’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution finding him guilty of violating the student sexual misconduct policy. The OSCR uses a “preponderance of evidence” standard rather than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for a criminal investigation.
The most plausible explanation for the delay, rather than some massive cover up for a freshman kicker, is something, possibly this blog post, prompted U of M to investigate the incident under a new student sexual misconduct policy, finalized in 2013. The misconduct occurred before Brady Hoke or AD David Brandon were hired. Former AD Bill Martin claimed he was never informed. Former coach Rich Rodriguez declined comment.
Michigan has not answered questions about the story citing FERPA, despite FERPA not protecting findings of violence and sex crimes. The school’s silence has engendered speculation.
The OSCR document confirming sexual misconduct was signed on Nov. 20. The earliest confirmation the athletic department knew, based on an outgoing fax, was on Dec. 19. When did they really find out?
Gibbons played in Michigan’s game against Iowa on Nov. 23. He missed the Ohio State game with a purported injury, though he attended Michigan’s football bust. He did not travel for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl due to a “family matter,” a deliberate fib on Hoke’s part.
Did Hoke play Gibbons vs. Iowa despite knowing he had been found guilty? One theory suggests it defies belief Michigan’s athletic department would not have known before the Iowa game. However, OSCR did not meet with Gibbons until Dec. 4. Would they have informed the athletic department before meeting with Gibbons himself? Worst case: Michigan knew the result immediately and played him anyway. Best case: they didn’t know until after the season and were just misleading.
It’s not clear whether Michigan did anything wrong. But, following the Sandusky scandal at Penn State, Michigan asserting people should trust the school’s “integrity” and “standards” is not good enough for a public institution. It is time for some answers.
[Photo via USA Today Sports]