Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons was separated, or expelled, from the University of Michigan on December 20, 2013 as a result of an investigation in to an alleged sexual misconduct incident from 2009. This may shed some light on his status on the football team in the final few games of the 2013 season, but it also raises some others.
According to a report by Michigan Daily, revised university policies related to sexual misconduct on campus led to review of various allegations, including the case regarding Gibbons that had previously run its course. This ultimately led to the school’s decision to remove Gibbons from the university last December.
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke was named the head coach in Ann arbor after the Gibbons investigation had run its course during the Rich Rodriguez era. As far as he was concerned, Gibbons was eligible and available to play for the Wolverines without question. His handling of the re-opened investigation though is raising some questions from Michigan fans. If Hoke had been made aware of the re-opened investigation, which is a somewhat safe assumption, he certainly made no attempts to address it with the media.
On December 23, three days after the decision to remove Gibbons from the university was made official, Hoke only mentioned that his kicker did not travel with the team to Tempe, Arizona for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Kansas State. The issue shared by Hoke was Gibbons was dealing with a family matter. If Gibbons had been separated from the university, Hoke would have likely been made aware of that decision and appears to have hidden that piece of information when given an opportunity to address it. A simple violation of team rules is all that would have been needed and is the typical coach explanation when a player is in some sort of trouble. This certainly would have qualified as a violation of team rules.
Questions about Hoke’s handling of Gibbons during the regular season also are now fair to question given the information provided now. In the regular season finale against rival Ohio State, on November 30, Gibbons sat out of the game due to what was reported as a muscle injury. The injury supposedly happened earlier in the week. Given the timing, it is possible the university re-opened their investigation in to the Gibbons sexual misconduct case. Under those circumstances it is fairly typical to have a player removed from the team until the investigation comes to a conclusion.
We do not know for sure what exactly Hoke knew or was told, but if the head coach was kept out of the loop on this sort of case it is fair to ask why.