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Published: Saturday, 2/1/2014 - Updated: 7 months ago

UM president defends probe

Coleman: Investigations are not influenced by sports

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

ANN ARBOR — The outgoing president of the University of Michigan posted a statement to the school’s Web site debunking recent news reports concerning the athletic department’s possible influence over an investigation of an internal complaint.

Brendan Gibbons, a kicker on the Michigan football team, was expelled last month for a violation of the school’s student sexual misconduct policy, reportedly stemming from a 2009 incident.

Gibbons has not responded to inquiries seeking comment regarding the report of his expulsion. Citing federal privacy laws, the Michigan athletic department has not commented on Gibbons or his academic status, and Michigan’s public affairs office released a statement Wednesday confirming that it will not release results or details of the investigation.

However, UM president Mary Sue Coleman released a statement Friday in regards to the investigation process — but did not name Gibbons or a specific case.

“Athletics has no influence over sexual misconduct investigations or the academic standing of student athletes,” read the statement from Coleman. “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.”

Michigan implemented its current policy in the August of 2013, and these are Coleman’s first comments regarding the policy. Coleman will retire in July and will be replaced as president by Mark S. Schlissel, the provost of Brown University.

The Michigan Daily, UM’s student newspaper, originally reported Gibbons’ expulsion, which was effective Dec. 20 following an investigation by the university’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution. The Office of Student Conflict Resolution is part of the university but independent of law enforcement.

The Daily also reported this week that it obtained a letter that was signed by Gibbons, finalizing his expulsion on Dec. 19 and sent via fax from a number associated with the UM football program.

Four days later Michigan coach Brady Hoke told reporters in Arizona that Gibbons did not travel with the team to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl because of “family reasons.”

Gibbons earned his bachelor’s degree in general studies and was enrolled in Michigan’s graduate school in the fall.

The Ann Arbor Police Department confirmed that while Gibbons was arrested for a November, 2009, incident, no charges were filed and the case was closed in 2010. There have been no other charges or prosecution against Gibbons.

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



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