Advertisement

More than 100 sign letter defending Schembechler

There is no word if the university has responded to that letter.
Schembechler Hall on the University of Michigan Campus in Ann Arbor, Mich., is shown May 14,...
Schembechler Hall on the University of Michigan Campus in Ann Arbor, Mich., is shown May 14, 2021. The building is named after legendary football coach Bo Shembechler. A report released Tuesday, May 11, 2021, about the stunning lack of action at the University of Michigan while a rogue doctor, Robert Anderson, was sexually assaulting hundreds of young men has pointed an unflattering light at one of the school's giants, the late football coach Bo Schembechler, whose bronze statue stands on campus. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)(Paul Sancya | AP)
Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 9:19 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - An open letter signed by more than one hundred former University of Michigan football players, coaches, and staff members is showing support for coach Bo Schembechler.

The late coach is under fire after his son and other former athletes came forward saying Schembechler knew about U of M doctor Robert Anderson abusing students but did nothing about it.

The letter, obtained by The Detroit Free Press, says efforts to destroy coach Schembechler’s reputation and legacy will not go unchallenged and that just because he is not present does not mean he is not here. The authors go on to say they are proud of their connection to Schembechler and stand in support of his wife Cathy and son Glenn who recently put out their own letter supporting Bo.

The group attached to the letter also wants to make it clear they are sympathetic to all victims of sexual abuse. There is no word if the university has responded to that letter.

Most prominent among the names is Jack Harbaugh, who was an assistant coach under Schembechler from 1973-79. Jack is the father of current U-M coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jim Harbaugh is not listed on the letter, addressed to “the University of Michigan Community.”

Last week an online petition was created to defend Schembechler’s legacy. However, it has since been shut down after gaining 182 signatures.

The body of the letter in full:

“We are former players, coaches and staff members who played for and worked with Bo Schembechler during the 1960′s, 70′s, and 80′s. We saw Coach Schembechler in victory and in defeat, in front of crowds 100,000 strong, and in quiet moments of reflection. Many of us met him for the first time in our parents’ living rooms when we were barely old enough to vote and most of us stayed in touch with him right up until his death in 2006.

“Our experiences tell us that the Bo Schembechler we knew would never have tolerated any abuse or mistreatment of his players, his staff, or any other individual. We believe firmly, that if he were aware of such behavior, Coach Schembechler 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.

“We want to be clear: as a group, we are sympathetic to all victims of sexual abuse. Yearly physicals by family doctors, or athletic physicals by a university doctor were the same physicals as performed by the United States military. There was no reason to suspect abuse in those circumstances. If Coach Schembechler was aware of any criminal or sexual abuse, as we stated above, in our opinion, he would have been outraged and acted immediately. It is reasonable to assume that Coach Schembechler, like many at the time, believed the physicals were not abusive but rather performed in accordance with standard medical practices.

“All of us received physicals to play football at Michigan. Many of us never thought at any time we had been abused during the process. And, subsequently nothing was reported to Bo. One of the strengths of Coach Schembechler was to motivate players to be better than they thought they could be. Bo always expected the best from us because he held himself to the same standard. The effort to destroy Coach Schembechler’s reputation and legacy will not go unchallenged by those of us who knew him. Just because he isn’t present doesn’t mean he’s not here.

“We are proud of our connection to Coach Schembechler, and we stand today in complete support of his wife Cathy, his son Glenn III (Shemy) and his memory.”

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to our News 10 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning.