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Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh Defends Bo Schembechler After Robert Anderson’s Alleged Abuse


AP Photo/Tony Ding

In its report on the investigation into Dr. Robert Anderson’s alleged sexual assault and abuse of hundreds of athletes and students at the University of Michigan, law firm WilmerHale wrote that former Wolverines football coach Bo Schembechler was aware of the abuse, but current coach Jim Harbaugh defended Schembechler on Thursday.

Steven Lorenz of the Detroit Free Press shared Harbaugh’s comments:

“I can tell you this. Bo Schembechler … there was nothing that I saw in the times when I was a kid here, my dad was on staff or when I played here … he never sat on anything. He never procrastinated on anything. He took care of it before the sun went down. That’s the Bo Schembechler that I know. There’s nothing that ever was swept under the rug or ignored. He addressed everything in a timely fashion. That’s the Bo Schembechler that I knew.”

These were Harbaugh’s first public comments about the topic since WilmerHale released a 240-page report detailing what Michigan knew about Anderson’s assaults.

Autria Lindsay, who is a spokesperson for Spotlight Michigan, which is an organization that was designed for the “accountability for the crimes of Dr. Robert E. Anderson,” responded to Harbaugh:

“It’s very unfortunate, yet not surprising, that Coach Harbaugh is choosing to ignore the voices of 850 victims. Turning a blind eye and denying the problem has been the Michigan way for decades now, and it’s clear Coach Harbaugh is going to continue following the Bo Schembechler method.

“While the abuse suffered at the hands of serial predator Dr. Robert Anderson continues to haunt his hundreds of victims, these brave men and women are further victimized when their horrific allegations of rape and sexual assault aren’t considered credible by those in power. We had hoped Coach Harbaugh would be the face of a new era for the Michigan football program.” 

In May, David Jesse of the Detroit Free Press shared details of the WilmerHale report that was commissioned by Michigan.

It discovered administrators at Michigan were told about Anderson’s behavior multiple times between 1978 or 1979 and 1981 but never acted. The report said that several football players told Schembechler, and he responded by telling them to “toughen up.”

WilmerHale conducted interviews with 300 people and collected information from 800 people.

Schembechler coached the Wolverines from 1969-89 and is widely considered by many Michigan fans as the gold standard for success on the field when it comes to the program. Harbaugh played quarterback under Schembechler from 1983-86 prior to his NFL career.

Harbaugh has coached the Wolverines since the start of the 2015 campaign.

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