Ann Arbor — Michigan coach Brady Hoke, a husband, father to a daughter and brother to two sisters, maintains a firm stance on domestic violence and spends considerable time throughout the year discussing it with his players.
Hoke dismissed senior defensive end Frank Clark on Monday morning shortly before Clark was charged with domestic violence and assault in a Sandusky, Ohio, courtroom following an incident Saturday night with his girlfriend at a hotel.
Hoke said he was informed of the arrest early Sunday and collected as much information as possible before making his decision, which he said he made alone, although he did consult with interim athletic director Jim Hackett.
"The harsh reality is, I did the right thing today," Hoke said.
He spoke definitively on the subject.
"Domestic abuse is tragic," Hoke said Monday at his weekly news conference. "It's tragic on a national scale. We all need to do something about it. Being a husband, being a father, having two sisters, it's a message I send strongly to our football team about how we will handle ourselves with women."
With several reported domestic violence crimes recently connected to NFL players, this has become a national hot-button issue.
But Hoke, in his fourth season at Michigan, said it is something he addresses at the start of the season and then several times throughout, often bringing in speakers from the university.
"We speak about it constantly," Hoke said. "I have told our guys since Day 1 that it won't be tolerated in this program."
According to the Perkins Township police report, Clark's girlfriend, Diamond Hurt, said he punched her in the face during an altercation in the Maui Sands hotel in Sandusky. Hurt, according to the police report, had a welt on her face and marks on her neck. Clark, his nose bleeding, told police he didn't touch her. Hurt did not want to press charges.
Clark was convicted in 2012 of a second-degree felony for home invasion when he stole a laptop from a dorm room. Hoke gave Clark, suspended one game, a second chance. Hoke, as of his Monday news conference, had not spoken to Clark, but said he intends to in an effort to continuing mentoring.
"I don't feel burned by anything," Hoke said, in response to giving Clark a second chance. "That's part of mentoring. You feel like you failed a little bit, let's put it that way. You are disappointed. The lessons as a teacher and a mentor and a coach, that's what you're trying to do. That's why I got into coaching to help develop kids, because I had a coach who cared about me."
The Michigan football program has been linked to several arrests in the past year. This is the second player Hoke has dismissed this year. Former receiver Csont'e York was kicked off the team before the start of the season after police released video of York punching a man outside an Ann Arbor bar in July.
"I have no worries about how we handle our kids and what we do with them," Hoke said. "The consequences they pay for them, anything, I have no issues with that. I just know we live in an imperfect world and sometimes there are mistakes that are made. For us to abandon ship depending on the circumstance is giving up what's great about our country and developing men, because we need to develop men."
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, like Hoke, said he plans to talk to Clark.
"You never give up on your guys," Mattison said Monday. "You don't ever condone. You don't ever, ever. From Day 1 in our meetings, coach Hoke does a tremendous job of explaining what is never tolerated. He does that all the time with our players. If you looked at football teams over the country, I mean, wow, ours compared to that is pretty darn good. They're young kids. They're kids who make mistakes. I wish I could say I never made a mistake. I can't say that. So do I condone it? Never been more disappointed, but am I always there for them, yeah, we always are. That's the way we always will be."
It seems each week Michigan has had issues related to football but not always directly related to the on-field product, such as the handling of the Shane Morris concussion and the resignation of former athletic director Dave Brandon.
Hoke was asked if it has changed him as a coach.
"It's been an enjoyable year," Hoke said, laughing. "No, not really. It is what it is. Leadership is supposed to be hard. That's part of what this is. There's worse things that can happen in this world than going through some tough things from a professional or team standpoint."
Fifth-year senior quarterback Devin Gardner said he has found a silver lining in all of this.
"It's pretty amazing so many things keep coming up," Gardner said. "I was talking to coach Hoke about it yesterday and today, but it's preparing us to deal with adversity, because in life you're going to have a lot of adversity. Things are going to come that you don't expect. That's a lot of things we've dealt with, and I felt like we've dealt with it well and just continue to stay grounded and continue to work. That's what you're going to have to do as a citizen of the world, and that's what we're learning to do now."