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Report faults UM for lag in expelling Gibbons

04/14/2014, 9:03am EDT
By RACHEL LENZI BLADE SPORTS WRITER

ANN ARBOR — The University of Michigan Central Student Government released the findings of a task force investigation of the university’s handling of the new student sexual misconduct policy and found that the university failed to explain a four-year delay between the reported conduct of a former football player in 2009 and his expulsion in December.

The 50-page report, emailed Sunday to The Blade, also stated that Michigan football coach Brady Hoke may have “knowingly lied” about the student status of Brendan Gibbons, a kicker on the football team who was expelled in December for violating the school’s student sexual misconduct policy.

The report states that “either [the Office of Institutional Equity and Office of Student Conflict Resolution] failed to consistently communicate with the Athletic Department, the Athletic Department failed to consistently communicate with its coaches regarding ongoing student athlete disciplinary matters, or Brady Hoke knowingly issued false statements in December, 2013, concerning the status of Gibbons,” who did not travel to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Hoke said Dec. 23 that Gibbons remained in Florida for “family reasons.”

“Given that Gibbons was notified that he was found responsible for this conduct in November, and a letter sent to him was dated December 20, and Hoke said, ‘he’s not going to be with the team because of family issues,’ it’s pretty clear,” said outgoing CSG president Michael Proppe, who established the task force in February. “Either Brady Hoke didn’t know Gibbons was permanently separated, which we don’t think was likely given the communication process between OIE and OCR administrators and the athletic department, or a false statement was made.”

A Michigan athletic department spokesman declined to comment on the report Sunday night. Gibbons could not be reached for comment.

Hoke issued a written statement in March that cited federal privacy laws for not commenting directly on Gibbons’ expulsion and denied reports of the athletic department’s possible influence over the investigation.

The report found that the university failed to investigate a sexual misconduct allegation against Gibbons within a 60-day window after a third party contacted the university’s Title IX office with a complaint alleging Gibbons’ conduct in 2009; and that the school’s OSCR and OIE could not adequately respond to an increase in sexual misconduct cases.

University representatives have cited federal privacy laws in withholding comment on Gibbons’ expulsion, and denying the task force the right to examine documents from the Office of Student Conflict Resolution that related to the Gibbons case.

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is also investigating whether the university provided an appropriate response to sexual violence complaints as required by Title IX and whether any failure by the university allowed a student or students to be subjected to a sexually hostile environment.

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.

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