A group of former football players and other students recently spoke up about their experience of sexual abuse under a now-deceased team doctor at the University of Michigan (UM). Now, they are calling on the UM administration to reevaluate the legacy of former head coach Bo Schembechler, who was allegedly aware of the late Dr. Robert E Anderson’s abuse but did nothing about it.
The university commemorates Schembechler’s achievements as a legendary football coach with a statue of him outside the campus football stadium. Schembechler led the Michigan Wolverines from 1969 to 1989, winning 194 games and winning or sharing 13 Big Ten football championships.
Anderson passed away in 2004; Schembechler died in 2006.
Attorney Parker Stinar, the lawyer representing hundreds of former players and students who stepped forward to report sexual abuse by Anderson, believes that the statue of the coach will be one of the main points of discussion for the group.
“I think the vast majority of players either before him (Schembechler), after him or during his course, believe that the statue needs to come down, believe the building needs to be changed, believe that his legacy is forever tarnished,” Stinar told US News.
The argument is “Bo Schembechler wasn’t powerful enough to make a change.”
Not when he was the head coach for 20 years. Not when he was the ATHLETIC DIRECTOR. Never.
That’s the argument.
— Bryan Mac (@Bry_Mac) June 15, 2021
The Schembechlers Divided Over Bo’s Innocence
Schembechler’s son, Matt Schembechler, also came forward with a story of his own. Matt claims that he was only 10 when Anderson abused him during a physical for youth football. When he approached his father, who was in his first year of his iconic run with the Wolverines at this time, Bo became enraged and punched Matt in the chest.
Bo Schembechler’s son says he was molested by team doc Robert Anderson in 1969, and the famous Michigan coach violently silenced him and backed Anderson when he tried to speak up. Anderson is accused of abusing hundreds in the 3 decades that followed. https://t.co/5hn8QJBWUP
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) June 10, 2021
Anderson “was supported by a culture that placed the reputation of the university above the health and safety of the students,” Matt told US News. “That is the culture that made my father a legend and placed his statue in front of Schembechler Hall.”
The rest of their family members — Bo’s second son Shemy, his wife Megan, and Bo’s widow Cathy, are skeptical about Bo ignoring complaints about Anderson. They claimed that he never spoke to any of them regarding inappropriate behavior by the former doctor.
“It is telling to us that Bo never spoke to any of us about inappropriate behavior by Dr. Anderson. To the contrary, in our steadfast opinion, Bo was not aware of such conduct and assumed that any procedures were medically appropriate,” they wrote in a public statement, as reported by Fan Nation.
“As he demonstrated at many points in his career and to us as a family, Bo had a clear and compelling sense of right and wrong: he would not have tolerated misconduct, especially toward any of his players, family members, coaches, or to anyone associated with the University of Michigan’s football program,” they added.