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Dozens of former UM athletes gather in Ann Arbor, urge board to discuss Anderson abuse

Posted at 5:26 AM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 18:37:16-04

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — The fallout surrounding claims of sexual abuse at the hands of the now-deceased UM Dr. Robert Anderson and allegations of a cover-up, including by legendary late Michigan Football Coach Bo Schembechler, continued on Wednesday.

Related: 'Bo didn't keep me safe.' Schembechler's son & former Michigan players detail Dr. Anderson's abuse

Dozens of additional former athletes and students gathered in Ann Arbor in front of Michigan Stadium to call for immediate action from the university ahead of a Board of Regents meeting.

This comes after Schebechler's son, Matt, spoke out against his dad last week, saying he was a victim of Anderson and claiming Bo knew, while Bo's widow says something different.

There's nothing related to Anderson or Schembechler on the agenda for Thursday's regularly scheduled U of M Board of Regents meeting, something a group of former football players and other student-athletes is hoping to change.

During Wednesday's press conference, one survivor said he went to Schembechler's office, who then told the survivor to go to then-Athletic Director Don Canham's office in the early 1980s.

Related: Schembechler family says if Bo had known about Anderson abuse, 'he would have stopped it'

Anderson worked at the university from 1966 until 2003, and allegedly abused hundreds of student-athletes over decades. Some have accused that Schembechler knew about the alleged abuse and swept it under the rug.

The university released a statement that reads: "The University of Michigan is actively engaged in a confidential, court-guided mediation process with the survivors of Dr. Anderson's abuse and we remain focused on that process.

The WilmerHale investigation team had full access to all available information; they decided what to review and what to consider. Their report made it clear that many survivors required confidentiality as a condition for speaking."

In an exclusive interview with Carolyn Clifford, Bo's widow, Cathy Schembechler, talks about the impact of these allegations.

"It's terrible because he gave his life for Michigan , not only for the state, not only Ann Arbor, the university too," she said. "It seems he's getting no support in the time her need it most. His players are behind him, they are devastated. Everyone know what a good man he is, was."

Matt Schembechler said he was abused by Anderson at the age of 10, and according to Matt, when he told his dad, he lost it and said he didn't want to hear it.

Matt is one of at least four men who claim they alerted Schembechler to Anderson's abuse.

Bo's family came to his defense in a statement which reads in part, "…in our steadfast opinion, Bo was not aware of such conduct and assumed that any procedures were medically appropriate. 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."

An attorney representing former players who claim abuse by Anderson says he expects during today's 10 a.m. event in Ann Arbor - they'll discuss Schembechler, along with a statue of the legendary coach that bears his name.

The Schembechler family's entire statement is below.

There are many ways to take the measure of a man, especially one as scrutinized as Bo Schembechler. You can judge him by his coaching record, the wins and losses give the illusion of a tidy summary. You could look at him by looking at the caliber of the people he surrounded himself with over his four decades of coaching, the teams, coaches, and staff who played for and worked with him, many of whom never fell out of touch with Bo. You could assess him through the testimonials of many of those individuals who have in recent days spoken out in defense of his memory and legacy. Perhaps you could get a sense of Bo Schembechler by talking to the hundreds – thousands more likely – of people whose lives were enriched by his enduring presence long after their playing days were over.

We, however, measure Bo Schembechler by different standards, as a devoted husband and a father. We remember him in those intimate family moments that pass unnoticed to others but are indelibly stamped in our memories. We remember him at moments of celebration shared with the world, but also during quiet moments of advice and counsel. We remember that – even during the height of the season – Bo would come home for dinner to share stories of what had happened to him that day and to ask about our days.

That Bo Schembechler was, and remains, deserving of our admiration and our love. 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. 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. If Bo had known of inappropriate conduct, we are certain that he would have stopped it immediately, reported it, and had Dr. Anderson removed from the University.

Some will argue that the absence of proof is not definitive in situations such as these, but it is noteworthy that a 240-page report done by an outside, independent law firm retained by the University to look into Dr. Anderson’s conduct examined similar allegations but did not substantiate those claims.

As painful as the last few days have been, we are confident the facts – and the truth – will ultimately win the day. We are confident that the veracity of each accuser will be examined, and that appropriate weight will be given to the sad reality that one of our family members has been for decades estranged from us and has on numerous occasions made unfounded and false accusations against Bo and other family members including pursuing legal actions that have been repeatedly rejected.

Bo Schembechler was father and husband. A devoted Christian. He was inspiring, demanding, loyal, a fierce defender of his extensive family and a taskmaster who pushed everyone around him to be better, to be the best version of themselves possible. He pushed himself harder than anyone. He believed in integrity, honesty and kindness; he despised dishonesty and cruelty. His accomplishments – and the positive impact he had in the lives of so many people around him – are examples to study and to emulate. We are grateful to everyone who has stepped forward to defend his memory. We are proud to bear his name and to bear witness for a life well-lived.

Cathy Schembechler
Glenn E. “Shemy” Schembechler III
Megan Schembechler