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Editorial: Michigan slow to respond to football player misconduct

Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 21:02

A few weeks ago, the student newspaper at the University of Michigan, The Michigan Daily, broke a story about former kicker for the Michigan football team, Brendan Gibbons. Gibbons had been “permanently separated” from the university following a violation involving sexual misconduct. However, the misconduct in question was a violation that was reported to have occurred on November 22, 2009, a little over four years ago. Despite the violation, Gibbons remained kicker for the team and has only now been reprimanded by the university. Additionally, following the publication of the report, The Michigan Daily was not invited to a press conference for football coach Brady Hoke. Many writers took to Twitter in response, saying they felt it was due to the article and how it had put the university in a negative light.

The issue with this story is two-fold. First and foremost, it was wrong of the University of Michigan to have such a delayed response to Gibbons’ violation. If the administration knew about the incident back in 2009, it should not have taken over four years for punishment to be levied. Hoke stated that Michigan Athletics has no bearing on a review of a potential code of conduct violation and that they do not take disciplinary action until the university process has taken its course. However, this does not change the fact that no action was taken, by whichever part of the university was responsible for such matters, until Gibbons became a graduate student.

The other issue is how the newspaper was not invited to the press conference. Though it is difficult to prove that this was done intentionally in response to the published article, rather than a simple clerical error or genuine forgetfulness, it brings up the issue of the relationship between a college and its student newspaper. The newspaper is not something that should be used as a PR machine for the school; especially considering it is financially independent from the university. Its job is not to make the school look good, or even to make them look bad. Its job, and the job of any newspaper, is to report the news. And these students should not be getting punished for doing their job. 

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