The University of Michigan named a new president last month, and the football team landed another great class of recruits last week. But there’s another story that keeps eclipsing those two.
I’ve been reluctant to write about Brendan Gibbons, because so little is clear – from the incident that started this saga five years ago, to the various responses since.
A few things are clear, though, starting with this: the athletic department continually fails to follow the advice of legendary athletic director Don Canham, “Never turn a one-day story into a two-day story.”
This story starts back in 2009, when Wolverine kicker Brendan Gibbons had an encounter at a party with a female student. Ultimately, only two people know what happened, but we do know she contacted the Ann Arbor police, then decided not to press charges.
This put the university in a tough spot. In 2009, it was a tenet of university policy that it would not look into such situations unless the alleged victim came forward. But in 2013, the university revised its code, no longer requiring the alleged victim to start an investigation.
That’s why it wasn’t until November 20 of 2013 that the Office of Institutional Equity concluded that Gibbons “engaged in unwanted or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, committed without valid consent, and that conduct was so severe as to create a hostile, offensive, or abusive environment.”
From everything I’ve seen, the university played it straight, and the athletic department never attempted to interfere with the process. That’s the good news.
The bad news is, having gotten the hard part right, the athletic department seemed determined to get the easy part wrong.