Michigan coach Brady Hoke couldn't say much Monday about the expulsion of kicker Brendan Gibbons (34) from the university. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)
Ann Arbor — Michigan coach Brady Hoke on Monday, in his first meeting with beat reporters since the bowl game Dec. 28, released a printed statement regarding his public handling of former kicker Brendan Gibbons’ situation.
But he cited privacy issues preventing him from further discussion.
“Believe me, it would be easier to discuss some things,” he said. “But for privacy and everything else, it’s not going to happen.”
Gibbons, at the conclusion of his football eligibility, was expelled from the university Dec. 20, 2013, for violating Michigan’s Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, according to a letter obtained by the Michigan Daily student newspaper.
The violation stemmed from an alleged sexual misconduct incident Nov. 22, 2009, for which Gibbons never was 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.
Gibbons did not play in the final regular-season game against Ohio State because of a muscle injury, Hoke said at the time. Upon arrival in Phoenix on Dec. 23 for the bowl game, Hoke said Gibbons did not make the trip because he was home in Florida dealing with a “family matter.”
Hoke would not answer questions Monday regarding when he was made aware of Gibbons’ expulsion, citing federal laws and university policy. He pointed to his statement as his lone comment on the subject.
Among the highlights from the statement:
“Michigan athletics has no influence over any part of a review of a potential violation of the university’s student code of conduct — not the process, the investigation or the timing of the resolution.
“In general, while we may be aware of an ongoing proceeding, we always strive to balance transparency with privacy.
“Our usual approach is not to issue discipline related to a student’s standing on the team before the university’s process runs its course and the outcome has been determined. We will always respect the rights and confidentiality of the process and the parties involved. One way we do that is by not discussing the details of student disciplinary matters.
“So while I would like to be more forthcoming, I can’t provide any details due to federal privacy laws and University policies.”
Hoke was asked Monday how difficult it is not to discuss the matter publicly.
“It is what it is,” he said. “Federal laws and all that stuff. University policy. To be honest with you, it’s not fair to anybody involved.”
He said he does not believe he ever will be able to publicly discuss the matter.
Hoke also was asked if the public would feel more comfortable with how he handled his side of the matter if he could offer more of an explanation.
“People are going to have their own opinion, they’re going to write what they want to write, you know that and I know that,” Hoke said. “It is what it is.”
Hoke made clear he educates his players on all university policies.
He said character and integrity are the most important characteristics he believes in, and he conveys that to his players. Hoke then pointed in general terms to how he has dealt with disciplinary matters since he’s been head coach at Michigan since 2011.
“Look, track record, I’ve dealt with everything that’s happened on this team from character issues to the integrity they have, and those are two of the most important things I have is my character and my integrity,” Hoke said. “I got into coaching to help kids understand that. That’s a huge part of what this job is and why I got into it.
“For people to attack the character and integrity we have as a program and Michigan and me personally, is something that’s not true because we’ve dealt with it. You can go back and look at all the different cases we’ve had. We haven’t had many, but there have been consequences and discipline and all those things.”