By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – Several questions posed to Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke during Wednesday’s signing day press conference had zero to do with the high school players who had just signed their letters of intent.
Instead, a significant topic Wednesday was former kicker Brendan Gibbons, who was reportedly expelled by the university for an alleged rape that was reported in 2009.
Select reporters got invited to chat with Hoke about that situation and other items last week, but others – including the university’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily, which broke the story of Gibbons’ expulsion – were not informed of the meeting.
Accordingly, several reporters tried to extract information Wednesday.
Not shockingly, Hoke brushed off all such questions. Athletic director Dave Brandon, who spoke with reporters at length after a press conference introducing new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, was not made available for comment.
Hoke would not shed light on when he learned of the investigation, saying he put out a statement Monday. He also said he had “no idea” if he would normally be told of a investigation into a player, a query to which Hoke responded before the reporter could even complete the question.
The coach also deferred the idea that the whole situation has made the university look as though it is hiding something.
“That’s your opinion,” Hoke said.
As far as whether he believes people deserve more than just a statement, Hoke declined to share his thoughts.
“My opinion? Did I give you a statement?”
Even when prevailed upon to discuss how challenging this turbulent off-season – the firing of former offensive coordinator Al Borges, the talk of whether Brandon is really running the program instead of Hoke, concern about the overall direction and obviously the Gibbons situation – Hoke would not reveal anything.
“I don’t really listen to outside people,” Hoke said. “I think the guys who are in that Schembechler Hall, the guys who are in the offices, the guys who are in the meetings, I think the players, those are the ones that you listen to. Look, everybody’s got an opinion.
“Whether you were here or not, you’re going to write what you think, so it doesn’t matter,” Hoke continued. “My point is, that stuff doesn’t matter. If you get worried about that, then you’re going to do a poor job coaching a football team and making sure the young guys on that team learn how we’re going to do things.”
Below is the statement Hoke referenced.
“Michigan Athletics has no influence over any part of a review of a potential violation of University’s student code of conduct — not the process, the investigation or the timing of the resolution. In general, while we may be aware of an on-going proceeding, we always strive to balance transparency with privacy.
“Our usual approach is to not issue discipline related to a student’s standing on the team before the University’s process runs its course and the outcome has been determined. We will always respect the rights and confidentiality of the process and the parties involved. One way we do that is by not discussing the details of student disciplinary matters.
“So while I would like to be more forthcoming, I can’t provide any details due to federal privacy laws and University policies.
“We talk every day with our kids about the importance of character and integrity. It’s something we take very seriously, how we’re going to do things the right way. We talk daily about your name and what it means. That’s why you get into this as a coach, to help young men grow and learn and mature. We’re held to those standards, and we hold them to that. I think I’ve made clear our expectations, and our actions and discipline involving incidents in the past have reflected that. And those standards will not be compromised.”