Bev Plocki Speaks Out on Rhonda Faehn

Submitted by BursleyHall82 on January 17th, 2019 at 8:34 AM

Bev Plocki was on WTKA with Sam this morning, speaking out on the Rhonda Faehn situation for the first time. Some highlights:

  • She was, I thought, contrite and admitted that in hindsight, hiring Faehn was a mistake. Plocki said she was only thinking about the reaction within her own team, and didn't think of how the larger university community would be impacted and would react.
  • When she first had the idea of hiring Faehn, she went first to a Nassar survivor on her team and asked what she thought about it. The survivor was totally on board. Then she went to the team and asked if anyone objected. Nobody did. She said that if they wanted to message her privately to object, they could. Nobody did. The whole team was on board and excited about this.
  • She then went to Warde and said she wanted to hire Faehn. Warde said no. He then had an opportunity to meet with the captains and get the team's feeling on the situation, and decided to OK the hire.

I might have missed a few things, but that was the gist of it. Plocki was genuinely apologetic that she put the university in this situation, and admitted she didn't think it through.



January 17th, 2019 at 8:37 AM ^

I should have clarified for those who don't know that Bev Plocki is Michigan's women's gymnastics coach. And as fate would have it, Michigan's opponent tomorrow night is ... Michigan State.


January 17th, 2019 at 11:15 AM ^

Great post; makes me feel better about everyone concerned. I appreciate that she gets it. I also think that if they had been willing to fight for Faehn--starting with preparing the ground for the hire by taking pains to make clear that Faehn had done nothing wrong--that would have been their right. The fact that some key people among the victims were not cool with the hire suggests, at the very least, there was some serious grey area there. 

I don't agree that Faehn was some kind of sacrificial victim to a PC lynch mob (etcetera) as some are alleging--the actual victims are the victims, and needed to take precedence. But I do think that to the degree she was placed in an unfortunate position, the people who hired her were the ones in error, especially given the predictability of the response. 

Makes me feel much better about Warde that his initial instincts ran against it. 


January 17th, 2019 at 8:40 AM ^

Thanks for posting.  Probably shouldn’t have happened, but I’m heartened to know that they didn’t do this without some thought.  Hopefully, this will be a good learning experience for the department.  


January 17th, 2019 at 8:48 AM ^

Still seems weird. Like even if you feel like she's paid enough penalty for whatever she did or didn't divulge in a timely fashion, there's a way to hire her and not make it look shady as hell, but they went the "we're definitely gonna make this look shady as hell" route. 

If that's all the things you did to vet her against your team and the victims, then say it. Don't just *pop* - she's on the squad.


January 17th, 2019 at 9:13 AM ^

Yes, all coaching hires get a press release.  But this has nothing to do with any press release.  It has everything to do with not associating the university with the stain of Nassar.  To hire her required some explanation up front - an explanation/clarification of her role and what transpired from it; how she was vetted; why she was agreed on.  None of that happened.  Instead, a simple one-liner was released: 'welcome'...  When news broke and went south, Warde's reaction was to hide behind the children/young adults on the team rather than to get out in front of it.  When that reaction was called out, he hide behind a 'consultant' claim and quietly released her because of poor PR, yet without any further explanation.

Warde mishandled this in every way imaginable, and he should feel bad.  IMO, this single failure of leadership should bring his job performance into question by the Regents.  Maybe it doesn't warrant firing (that's for other's, with more day-to-day insight, to decide), but it's certainly a harsh strike.


January 17th, 2019 at 11:07 AM ^

The poster you replied to didn't write that it was a fire-able offense, he stated that it should bring his job performance into question and that it is  harsh strike against him. I am having a hard time seeing how one could NOT come to this conclusion. Sure it is not Engler level mishandling, but it is still mishandling.  


January 17th, 2019 at 11:07 AM ^

The poster you replied to didn't write that it was a fire-able offense, he stated that it should bring his job performance into question and that it is  harsh strike against him. I am having a hard time seeing how one could NOT come to this conclusion. Sure it is not Engler level mishandling, but it is still mishandling.  


January 17th, 2019 at 12:16 PM ^

From my OP:

"IMO, this single failure of leadership should bring his job performance into question by the Regents.  Maybe it doesn't warrant firing (that's for other's, with more day-to-day insight, to decide), but it's certainly a harsh strike."

What part about this were you able to not understand?  You conflated my words into something you wanted to write.  In any case, Warde is paid to not make mistakes like this.  His job is to keep the university sports department out of issues like this - instead, he drove the dept. straight into it.  And handled the whole thing poorly.  He took a zero-day story and made it a three day lesson in social media backlash.


January 17th, 2019 at 6:30 PM ^

I don't understand your objection to the rebuttal that "[t]his does not even come close to a fire able offense. "  You argued that maybe it doesn't warrant firing; the clear implication is that maybe it does.  You can't claim that a person is conflating your words when the clear implication of your words is precisely what he is responding to.  Let me know what parts of this post you are not able to understand.


January 17th, 2019 at 12:44 PM ^

I am allowed to not care for the job he's done to date or is that still off-limits here?

FWIW i find the "defend all things Warde" crowd just as ridiculous as the "fire Warde now" contingent.

I do believe there is a middle ground where one can be generally disappointed in his performance but stop short of calling for his dismissal.



January 17th, 2019 at 3:03 PM ^

I wasn't around during the Salem witch trials but the internet era has some sort of McCarthy era guilt by association. It's really Anti American.

Victims are rightfully angry so they want to burn everybody down and understand the power of the new media so they just scream and yell and people tend to buckle under social pressure. Let's be honest here. Most people are fearful and sensitive to criticism. You see it all the time.

This story reminds me of a recent story about Chipotle. If I recall correctly, a number of individuals (5 or so) come into a Chipotle and an Asian employee tells the individuals of color (I believe) to leave. Chipotle fires her but it turns out that the employee had encountered these individuals before who ordered but didn't pay.

Chipotle is made aware of this new information and says that they will possibly review any new information that comes to light. See the parallels? Corporation sees it in their self interests just to do the politically expedient thing to get rid of the publicity regardless of the facts.

Yes, the new America where politics trumps individual rights.


January 17th, 2019 at 8:51 AM ^

This is a very complicated and sensitive issue that often leaves me conflicted.  In general I am someone who believes in second chances under the right circumstances.  But with serious issues like this or athletes who have been involved with domestic violence.....what constitutes a second chance?  

I don't know enough about this coach or her involvement with the Nassar atrocities to have a meaningful opinion.  But what I hope organizations learn from this is that if you're going to stick your neck out in a complicated situation like this to offer someone a second chance, you have to do a lot more homework and messaging.  

If Michigan came out and explained what Plocki said in this interview BEFORE announcing the hire, perhaps the reaction would have been different.  The way they handled it was not going to be sufficient to explain why you felt it necessary to offer a second chance.  In this case it is probably best that she is no where near our program and rebuilds her career elsewhere. 

This same situation may play out with Kareem Hunt this off-season.  Some NFL team is going to do some homework (hopefully) and determine that he has done enough (hopefully) to be worthy of a second chance (if that's even possible).  Before you see it come across the bottom line or show up on Twitter that team better have their entire story ready to tell.  


January 17th, 2019 at 8:56 AM ^

Agree that in general people deserve second chances. I think the key is what you wrote, under the right circumstances.  Whether or not Faehn deserved a second chance isn't for me to say. But if she does it probably shouldn't 1) come so soon 2) come at an institution the caliber of Michigan. 


January 17th, 2019 at 9:38 AM ^

The only issue with this is that she really did not "fail" on her first chance.  She was briefly and unknowingly in proximity to a huge atrocity, that is about the extent of her guilt.  It was actually her reporting complaints to her boss that lead to the report being made to the FBI that resulted in the entire investigation.  I guess she can be held in contempt for not making a "citizens arrest" but that standard seems a little high. 

The entire issue with her hiring is really not about what she did or did not do, it is with Manuel not understanding that the hire needed to be discussed publicly contemporaneously in order to alleviate concerns.  He needed to explain why Faehn was really not culpable in the Nassar matter and that it would actually be unjust to hold her to account for it.  It is about optics, but it is not even really about the optics of hiring Faehn (she will get hired), it is about the optics of how the hiring was handled and what was not done that needed to be.


January 17th, 2019 at 10:16 AM ^

I mostly agree; and yes she did report and she was thrown into an existing toxic culture.  The issue I have is exactly what Denhollander pointed out, is once she and some of the other gymnasts came out publicly, she was still silent while the victims were scrutinized in the public eye.  She could have helped by coming forward.

A well rehearsed and scripted testimony to congress of the things she did does not absolve her.  Has she come out publicly after anyone of these girls did and say "Yes this is true, here is what I know and here is who I told" then this whole thing would be different.  

I don't hold her in the same light as those who are truly guilty, and those people are in jail, but I do not hold her in the same light as the brave women who came forward, nor do I view her as someone who is immediately employable at Michigan. 

Even if that role was a step down, she needed to start over and work her way back up. 

Lastly, Plocki asking her gymnasts is a power dynamic we have to consider.  If a coach asks you do something how many would speak out.  Were they asked to provide anonymous feedback?  Or to provide feedback directly to Manuel who would keep it confidential?  If not, its often repeating the mistakes we just learned about the power dynamic in this sport. 



January 17th, 2019 at 9:36 PM ^

It sounds to me like you have a stellar record of going the extra mile in pursuit of justice and the protection of our society. Could you give me some of personal sacrifices in this regard? I know you wouldn't just tell everything else how to act and behave but would be able to point to personal experience.


Thank You.


January 18th, 2019 at 11:52 AM ^

I directly am not in that position, I stare at computer programs all day.  I do know many people who are mandatory reporters and the struggles they deal with but at the end of the day they do the right thing. 

So you can make bullshit asinine comments attacking people or engage in civil discussion about what you think would have been right in this situation 

Also at the end of the day its not my job role to do that and to come across a situation like this for an every day person is extremely rate.  But it was in her job, she did come across a situation like this and she probably gets a B / B+ how she handled it.  Last I checked that doesn't get you into Michigan


January 17th, 2019 at 8:57 AM ^

I also am a big believer in second chances, too. As you alluded, second chance doesn't always mean that you get to go back to what you were doing before, though. Most of the time when there's a big mistake made, I think it means just getting the chance to start over again (sometimes from scratch).

If you're a VW exec and you're complicit in covering up emissions data, you should probably never get another job where you may have responsibility to make tough ethical decisions.


Arb lover

January 17th, 2019 at 9:12 AM ^

This is where we probably differ, because you consider her complicit in covering something up, and I don't. She actively participated to uncover rather than hide or continue the illegal actions, and she reasonably believed it had been taken care of. Following company procedure and immediately reporting to the CEO, and then believing them when they tell you in writing they've taken it to the authorities and the FBI, and as a result not bringing it to the authorities immediately yourself, is not the same thing as being complicit.

Should she have acted better? Absolutely. However the fact that she was trying and willing to go against her employer's wishes means more to me about her future ability to deal absolutely correctly with similar situations than a joe dirt off the street with no ethical baggage. 

I've dealt with enough industry experience in this regard to know that most people consider themselves ethical and would either act the same or worse than Faehn in this situation. I will start to believe the purists on message boards when I stop having to deal with problems like this in real life. You can neg that all you want, but its only easy to see the world in black and white when we shrug off part of our humanity. None of this means the university should have extended the offer to begin with, especially given perceptions such as this one.


January 17th, 2019 at 9:41 AM ^

Yeah, complicit is probably too strong of a word. But if someone comes into your office and graphically describes being sexually abused, the immediate reaction of any adult with common sense should be to notify the police immediately.

I have a decent bit of visibility to this sort of thing on the corporate ethics side (attorney) and tend to agree that most people would probably handle it the same way as Faehn. But having excellent judgment is presumably one of things that you're getting paid for if you're in an executive position like Faehn was. And even USAGym fired her for mishandling the situation.


January 17th, 2019 at 12:18 PM ^

Reporting to the CEO is bad policy. When an organization, (especially one that is responsible for the welfare of youth), be it a business, team, church, camp, school, etc., receives information internally about a sexual pervert in their ranks, their first reaction is to protect the organization. Not the victims.

This has proven true way too many times. Think Mike McQueary telling Paterno, who told the AD, who told the university president, who circled the wagons. Meanwhile, children continued to be buggered by Sandusky. 

Think about the 100’s of church scandals. The abuse report goes to the bishop and gets squashed. (Here you may have the Wolf guarding the sheep.)

And on and on. We are talking pedophilia. Every society has some. Our society must not tolerate it. (Although some have. And some still do.)

NEW RULE: If you know of this behavior go directly to the police. That is every citizen’s responsibility. The Pope, the AD, the school principal, the head coach, the CEO, can not be relied upon to do the right thing. Passing the buck up through the chain of command does not work and therefore does not absolve McQueary, or Paterno, or Rhonda Faehn, or some priest, or camp councilor, or anybody of their responsibility to do everything necessary to protect the kids and put the pervert away. 

CALL 911


January 17th, 2019 at 3:21 PM ^

timeline was longer than a week; and by the time the third gymnast went to her and told her in graphic detail she should have called the police.  If not then when Rachael Denhollander went public she should have been by her side publicly.

Timeline aside, they both told their bosses then sat back saying job well done.  Don't get me wrong, I don't actually think they are on the same level, but for those saying she told her boss what else should she have done, should really assess their view of JoePa


January 17th, 2019 at 5:43 PM ^

I understood it to be a week and it was reported had not heard about multiple girls.  I certainly agree telling your boss does not absolve you of further action if the process stops there.   

I am sensing this as more of a paralyzed by the gravity of the situation than I do intent to conceal.  It would surprise that the girls on the team would accept her and support her as they have done publicly if they felt she completely failed this.  


January 17th, 2019 at 10:47 AM ^

I really think we need to stop pointing to that testimony.  It wasn't a trial where there was an opposition who could dig into the facts.  It was a lawyer written testimony to congress.  Yes she looked good, but the point in those situations is to look good.

If she previously availed herself to the press or public and came off that well, thats a different story.  A pre-written testimony should not be the basis on which we solely grade her. 


January 17th, 2019 at 11:43 AM ^

I am not going to post my full opinion on this - because it is just an opinion based on the information I have read.

However, we as a fan base, may just have run out of town the very person who reported, became a conduit for more gymnasts to come forward, and kept reporting until an FBI Investigation was opened that ultimately led to stopping this monster.

And yes, the department should have recognized a public powder keg, and done a much better job at announcing their decision.


January 17th, 2019 at 11:54 AM ^

Likewise, my opinion is based on what I read, and this is something that is way more cloudy than not.  I think the thing that ultimately swayed me was the tweets by Rachael Denhollander and the lack of support she felt once she went public.  

I don't discredit anything that Faehn did to report, or even that she waiting to follow-up.  I do take concern that once Rachael and others came forward publicly that Faehn didn't come forward publicly then.  Not legal concern, but moral and ethical.

Again all opinions on a very cloudy, messy, emotional thing