Kicker Brendon Gibbons didn't travel with the Michigan football team to Tempe, Ariz., for the Dec. 28 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl due to "a family matter," said coach Brady Hoke. Records indicate Gibbons had been expelled from the university Dec. 20. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)
University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman, through the university’s public affairs website, said the athletic department — or any other department or individual — does not affect how sexual misconduct investigations are handled.
Coleman’s statement was made, according to the website, because “recent news reports have suggested that the university’s Athletics Department played a role in the investigation of an internal complaint filed with the university.”
Former Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons was expelled Dec. 20, 2013. The details were laid out in a letter from the University’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution obtained by the Michigan Daily, the student newspaper.
The violation stemmed from an alleged sexual misconduct incident Nov. 22, 2009 for which Gibbons was never charged. Gibbons was a redshirt freshman that year on the football team. He was in graduate school and had completed his football eligibility — with the exception of the bowl game — when he was expelled.
The Washtenaw County prosecutor’s office this week indicated it is not reviewing possible charges against Gibbons.
Gibbons did not travel to Arizona for Michigan’s bowl game in Tempe on Dec. 28. Upon the team’s arrival, Michigan coach Brady Hoke announced that Gibbons had returned home to Florida for “a family matter” and would not participate in the game.
It has been unclear when the athletic department and Hoke were informed of Gibbons’ dismissal.
Coleman’s statement did not address a timeline of who knew what and when.
“Athletics has no influence over sexual misconduct investigations or the academic standing of student athletes,” Coleman said in the statement. “No unit or individual on our campus has any influence over the investigations carried out by the Office for Institutional Equity (OIE).
“OIE is charged with conducting fair and impartial internal investigations involving allegations of discrimination and harassment, including allegations of sexual misconduct. Our policies and processes mandate a thorough and fair handling of any allegations of student sexual misconduct. The University of Michigan takes this responsibility very seriously.”
In a letter from the Office of Student Conflict Resolution sent Nov. 20, 2103 and obtained by the Daily, the university determined a “preponderance of evidence supports a finding that the Respondent engaged in unwanted or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, committed without valid consent.”
The Office of Institutional Equity, which reviews internal complaints of sexual assault at Michigan, does not, according to the Daily, require the same standard of evidence of criminal prosecutors. The Daily surmises that perhaps because of revised university policies regarding sexual misconduct, the initial allegation was reviewed or re-reviewed, hence the lengthy review delay.
Meanwhile, Michigan athletic department spokesman Dave Ablauf said he did not confirm a report this week that said he indicated Gibbons spoke to the athletic department on Dec. 19 about his letter of separation.