Last night, I reached Texas A&M University’s dean of student life, Dr. Anne Reber, to ask her about the sanctions against Johnny Manziel in the summer of 2012, events that have been reported in the last several days. Reber explained that, because she had not been cleared by Manziel to discuss university disciplinary matters, she was not able to say anything about his specific case. She was able, however, to describe generally how the university’s policy works.
Reber explained that, while not every offense by a student is reviewed by the university, “we have situations in a small town where things hit the newspaper, TV, and radio and it comes to our attention and now you are you looking at the university’s reputation. We determine whether we need to reach out and touch those students.”
In such situations, the case is reviewed by an office called Student Conduct Services that reports to the dean of student life. Student Conduct Services can decide on sanctions that range anywhere from a letter of reprimand to an expulsion.
From what Reber told me (though she would not confirm this herself), it seems likely that Manziel received a sanction called a “conduct probation,” which means that the student cannot represent the university in any way, including athletics. In recent days, various reports, including ours , have referred to Manziel’s “suspension,” but it now appears that this is the more accurate term. A conduct probation may also involve the loss of a scholarship, which Manziel said is what happened to him.
In Manziel’s account, he filed a written appeal with the dean of student life, and his coaches filed supporting letters, and he then met with her in person. While Reber will not confirm any of that, she did say that appeals are written, that they may include supporting documents, and that she sometimes interviews the individuals herself. All of this fits Manziel’s description of what happened.
“If there is an appeal of conduct probation, then I would hear that,” she said. “One of the newspapers used the word ‘overrule’ [in describing her final decision], but we don’t call it that. We call it modifying a sanction. I try to look at each individual student, and the context. What was the situation that occurred?”
When asked about Manziel’s comment that he had been “prosecuted” from an account in the local paper, she said that in cases of local arrest, Student Conduct Services and her office rely on police reports. “But he may be right that he was prosecuted in some way by the local papers.”