ANN ARBOR — The United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights will investigate the University of Michigan in the wake of the expulsion of former Michigan football kicker Brendan Gibbons for violating the school’s student sexual misconduct policy.
Douglas Smith, a former University of Michigan professor, originally filed the complaint in August of 2013 and received a written response from the U.S. Department of Education dated Feb. 24, which he forwarded Tuesday to The Blade.
“OCR has determined it is appropriate to proceed to investigation on the following issue: That the University failed to promptly and equitably respond to complaints, reports and/or incidents of sexual violence of which it had notice, and, as a result, students were subjected to a sexually hostile environment,” a letter signed by team leader Donald S. Yarab stated.
“Please note, however, that OCR is investigating the same issue in a separate complaint filed against the University (OCR Docket No. 15-14-2111) and your complaint will be consolidated with that complaint under that docket number. As part of that investigation, OCR will review the University’s Title IX grievance procedure, including how it is being implemented in sexual harassment, including sexual violence, cases.”
A U.S. Department of Education spokesman confirmed the investigation but did not provide further details. Michigan also confirmed the investigation Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re very proud of our student sexual misconduct policy, our prevention efforts, and our programs to support survivors of sexual misconduct,” Rick Fitzgerald, Michigan associate director for public affairs, wrote in an email to The Blade.
“We will fully cooperate with the Department of Education, and we believe that a review of our policy, programs, and investigations will conclude that the University of Michigan is doing what it should in this important area.”
The Michigan Daily, UM’s student newspaper, reported Gibbons’ expulsion in January, which stems from a 2009 incident. The school notified Gibbons of his expulsion in a letter dated Dec. 20, three days before Michigan coach Brady Hoke told the media in Arizona that Gibbons did not travel with the Wolverines to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl for “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.
Since the initial report of Gibbons’ expulsion in January, Michigan has declined to comment on the case and the investigation, citing federal privacy laws.
Outgoing president Mary Sue Coleman said in a Jan. 31 statement that athletics did not influence the investigation or Gibbons’ academic standing.
“I can’t say anything,” Hoke said Tuesday, the first day of spring practices for Michigan’s football team. “I don’t like that, but I can’t.”
Michigan’s Central Student Government has also established a task force to investigate Gibbons’ expulsion, the Office of Student Conflict Resolution’s investigation into the case, and the school’s implementation of its current student sexual misconduct policy.
NUSSMEIER’S DEAL: Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will make $830,000 in his first season with the Wolverines.
His contract, obtained Tuesday by The Blade through a Freedom of Information Act request, states that he will receive a base salary of $280,000 this season and additional compensation of $550,000.
His contract, dated Feb. 21, 2014, will expire on Jan. 31, 2017.
Nussmeier’s salary would rank sixth nationally among salaries for Football Bowl Subdivision coordinators and assistant coaches, according to a USA Today database released in December.
The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News reported that Nussmeier made $680,000 in 2013 as Alabama’s offensive coordinator.
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