Former Michigan players sign letter of support for Bo Schembechler after claims he ignored doctor’s sexual assault


More than 100 former members of Bo Schembechler’s Michigan football teams signed a letter this week seeking to defend the former coach’s reputation in the wake of several claims that he ignored allegations that a man who was a team doctor at the time was sexually assaulting his patients.

Four people — including one of Schembechler’s sons, Matt — have said in the past week that they told the famed coach they were sexually assaulted by Robert Anderson during physical exams and routine medical appointments. More than 800 former patients have said that Anderson, who worked at the university for more than 30 years and died in 2008, sexually assaulted them during his time on campus.

Schembechler died in 2006, more than a decade before claims about Anderson were made public.

The letter, which was shared with ESPN and other news outlets Friday, says its signees “firmly believe” that if Schembechler was aware of any sexual misconduct he “would have acted immediately to put a stop to it and would have made sure anyone responsible for it would have been removed from the University of Michigan football program.”

Among those who signed the letter were Jack Harbaugh, a former Schembechler assistant and father of current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, and Jim Hackett, who served as Michigan’s interim athletic director when Harbaugh was hired and recently retired from his role as CEO of the Ford Motor Co.

Matt Schembechler said last week that he was 10 years old in 1969 when he told his father that Anderson had sexually assaulted him. Matt said that he and his mother later told then-athletic director Don Canham and that Canham was planning to fire Anderson until Schembechler intervened and defended Anderson’s job.

Richard Goldman, who was a student broadcaster for the football team in the early 1980s, said earlier this week that he told Schembechler that Anderson assaulted him when he went to see the doctor for a referral to treat migraine headaches. Goldman said that Schembechler was enraged and sent him to speak to Canham and that it was Canham who then failed to act.

Canham died in 2005. His living family members, including his widow, Margaret, shared a letter with ESPN this week saying that they believe Canham would have acted if presented with information about sexual assaults.

“Don never spoke to any of us about inappropriate behavior by Dr. Anderson,” the family said in the letter. “Indeed, he sent many of his family members to Dr. Anderson without reservation — something he would not have done had he been aware of the allegations.”



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