‘Bo didn’t keep me safe’


Novi – University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler is often referred to as a legend. He led the Wolverines to 17 bowl games, received the Big Ten Coach of the Year award four times, and is considered one of the best college football coaches in history.

To honor his legacy, UM erected a statue of him in front of the campus building known as Schembechler Hall.

But a dark shadow fell on his reputation on Thursday when Schembechler’s son and two former players claimed the coach knew they had been sexually assaulted by Dr Robert Anderson, but did nothing to stop him.

“I’m going to use one of Bo’s quotes, ‘You bought it and paid for it, you’re going to live with it,” said Matt Schembechler, one of the coach’s four sons. “What other people think he’s going to have to live in his grave with.”

Schembechler joined former Wolverine soccer players Daniel Kwiatkowski and Gilvanni Johnson at a press conference at the Sheraton Detroit Novi. All three said they were assaulted by Anderson and alerted the revered coach to no avail.

As a result, they said, hundreds more were said to have experienced genital touching, digital penetration and other abuse at the hands of Anderson, who worked at UM from 1966 to 2003, including as a sports team doctor and head of the university health service.

Each spoke of being assaulted by Anderson during the physical exams they needed to play sports, and then told Schembechler about it.

“Bo didn’t keep me safe,” said Kwiatkowski, a 1977-1919 MU attacking tackle who alleged Anderson first assaulted him during a mandatory physical exam early on. of its first year.

(Editor’s Note: This video contains graphical language and may not be suitable for all viewers.)

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Former Michigan football player Daniel Kwiatkowski on Dr. Anderson

Former Michigan football player Daniel Kwiatkowski on Dr. Anderson. Note: This video contains graphical language and may not be suitable for all viewers.

Detroit News

When he told Schembechler, the coach told him to “get tough,” Kwiatkowski said.

“I graduated and left UM, but the scars of what happened to me by Dr Anderson and Bo never left,” he said.

Johnson, a MU wide receiver from 1982 to 1986 and a Detroit Lions player in 1987, said he had been sexually assaulted by Anderson more than 15 times and told Schembechler after the second occurrence.

“If Bo had arrested Dr Anderson after the first exam in my freshman year, the rest of the assaults would never have happened,” Johnson said. “If Bo had stopped Dr Anderson before 1982, I wouldn’t have been a victim at all.”

Anderson’s legacy was celebrated after his death in 2008. But in a February 2020 article in The Detroit News, Robert Julian Stone accused Anderson of sexually assaulting him in 1971. His story has since revealed 850 accusers. , who are in mediation with UM.

Schembechler, who coached the MU football team from 1969 to 1989, died in 2006.

In a joint statement Thursday, UM President Mark Schlissel and the board responded to the latest allegations.

“Our sympathy for all of Anderson’s victims is deep and unwavering, and we thank them for their courage in coming forward,” the statement said. “We condemn and apologize for the tragic misconduct of the late Dr. Robert Anderson, who left the University 17 years ago and passed away 13 years ago.

Rebekah Modrak, UM professor at the School of Art & Design, said the latest revelations were yet further evidence of the university’s failure to adequately respond to sexual misconduct.

“In 2017, University of Michigan administrators placed an accused serial sex offender – Martin Philbert – as a marshal, overseeing (the Office of Institutional Fairness),” she said. “And there was no impact on anyone on this hiring committee.

“I predict that the revelations of Dr. Robert Anderson’s horrific abuse will be dismissed as a problem of the past and, again, there will be no accountability,” Modrak said. “The culture of the University of Michigan is still unable to recognize flaws in order to do justice and prevent future violations.”

Reached Thursday by phone, Glenn “Shemy” Shembechler, the youngest son of Bo Schembechler, declined to comment.

But he told ESPN he doesn’t believe Matt, who is his brother. He said he couldn’t speak to the accusations of the other players.

“None of us were in this room when these players were talking to Bo,” Glenn Schembechler told ESPN. “The Bo I knew would have taken care of it and found another doctor. It would be that easy.”

He added that there was “no chance” that his father would hit his brother and did not see any violent behavior at home. His father, he said, was “as in love with a person as you can imagine” and is said to have stopped the assaults on Anderson.

Matt Schembechler, 62, said Anderson abused him twice, first in 1969 when he was 10 years old. He told his mother about it and then his father, who got angry, hit him and said he didn’t want to hear about it, the coach’s son said. His mother appealed to former UM athletic director Don Canham, who Matt Schembechler said fired the doctor, only for the coach to step in to keep him.

Schembechler said he was stepping forward to heal and adding his voice to the chorus of other people talking about Anderson, along with his father’s response.

“I understand the respect people have for my father,” Schembechler said, “but I know the truth: Anderson abused me and countless others for three decades… I had hoped my father would protect me, but he did not do it.”

Schembechler had a strained relationship with his father. He left the house where he grew up at the age of 18.

In 1999, he sued his father, the university and 12 other defendants, accusing them of trying to ruin his sports memorabilia business and damaging his reputation.

Bo Schembechler’s confidence specifically left out Matthew Schembechler and his two brothers who were adopted by the coach when he married Millie Schembechler in 1968, according to documents filed in federal court.

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Former Michigan football player Gilvanni Johnson on Dr Anderson and Bo Schembechler

Former Michigan football player Gilvanni Johnson on Dr Anderso and Bo Schembechler

Detroit News

He, along with Kwiatkowski, Johnson and their lawyers, said Anderson’s abuse was common knowledge in the football program.

“Bo knew. Everyone knew,” Kwiatkowski said.

Johnson said the players joked about “Dr Anus”.

Schembechler said: “Anderson’s abuse of players and students for 30 years was the college’s worst-kept secret.”

Mick Grewal, the lawyer for the three, said they “are now showing up to set the record straight.”

When asked how people should remember Bo Schembechler now, Johnson said it was more than his place as the Wolverines’ most victorious coach.

“Don’t get me wrong, Bo was a good coach,” Johnson said. “But, to me, in my memory of him at this point, did he allow 17 or 18 year olds to continue being assaulted when he could have done something about it.”

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