In a statement Tuesday, surviving family members of late University of Michigan football coaching legend Bo Schembechler rejected claims that he had any knowledge that team physician Robert Anderson was sexually abusing players and others during physical examinations.
"It is telling to us that Bo never spoke to any of us about inappropriate behavior by Dr. Anderson" the statement reads, as reported by The Detroit News. "To the contrary, in our steadfast opinion, Bo was not aware of such conduct and assumed that any procedures were medically appropriate."
Schembechler's adopted son Matt claimed last week that he was abused by Anderson during a youth football physical at age 10. He said he had promptly reported the incident to his father, who became belligerent and physical. Bo Schembechler allegedly refused to hear about it and later intervened to save the physician's job.
Related: Schembechler's Son: I Told Bo of Michigan Doctor Abuse
Anderson is the former head of University Health Service and team physician for Michigan's athletic department. He served from 1966 to 2003 and died in 2008. Beginning in February 2020, accusations emerged that Anderson had sexually abused hundreds of UM students, many of them student-athletes. More than three dozen additional accusers scheduled a press conference for today to detail their experiences, The Detroit News reported in a separate article.
The letter released Tuesday is signed by Bo's only biological son Glenn, Glenn's wife Megan and Cathy, Bo's wife at the time of his death in 2006.
"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," the letter states. "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."
Others, including current Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who played for Schembechler in the 1980s, have come to the former coach's defense. A group of former Michigan players and staff members started an online petition — “In Defense of Bo” — in an attempt to defend the Schembechler's legacy, according to The Detroit News.
A May report commissioned by the university to investigate Anderson showed three football players alerted Schembechler to Anderson's behavior and the coach allegedly told one of them to "toughen up."
The family letter alluded to Matt's status within the Schembechler family, stating, "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.
"As painful as the last few days have been, we are confident the facts — and the truth— will ultimately win the day."