If Bo Schembechler turned a blind eye to sex abuse, Michigan must erase him from school's history

Matt Schembechler says dad knew of serial assaults by team doctor

Bo Schembechler is a revered figure on the Michigan campus. If the allegations against him are true, the school must immediately cut ties with his legacy.
Bo Schembechler is a revered figure on the Michigan campus. If the allegations against him are true, the school must immediately cut ties with his legacy.
Illustration: AP

Bo must go.

If the allegations against legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler are true — that he knew about the alleged sexual abuse by former team doctor Robert Anderson was going on and turned the other way — his name and likeness should be stripped from that school’s campus immediately.

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The university can start with that statue of him. Then, his name should be removed from the football headquarters.

Sadly, the University of Michigan commissioned an investigation conducted by the law firm WilmerHale that concluded that Anderson’s misconduct was reported “several times between 1978 and 1981,” but that a “senior University administrator ... did not take appropriate action.”

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If that’s not enough to move the dyed-in-the-wool Michigan fans against anything Schembechler, maybe they will change their minds after hearing from Bo’s adopted son.

Matt Schembechler held a news conference today, going public about Dr. Anderson’s alleged abuse and his father’s failure to protect him. He was joined by two former Michigan players, each of whom spoke of their experiences.

In reading some of Matt Schembechler’s comments in a Detroit News interview, it’s a bad look for Bo if true.

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In fact, it’s unconscionable and simply can’t be ignored.

For sure, many, despite the first-person claims, will blame cancel culture.

They will use that cry to ignore the obvious so that they can still live in the past.

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To them, Bo was legendary, a part of what was good about their childhoods and memories.

It was the same argument for those that still wanted to celebrate slavery and the Confederacy.

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Stop it.

If this is true, those folks should blame Bo for not acting responsibly and protecting these young men from this alleged monster.

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And it doesn’t matter that Bo’s dead and buried. He doesn’t get off that easily. His memory and legacy will have to still face the music.

Sadly, this story sounds familiar because it is.

We saw the same thing play out at Penn State with another legendary football coach Joe Paterno in 2011.

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We learned from various news outlets and the Freeh Report, which conducted an investigation into Penn State’s actions, that the most powerful men at Penn State, including Paterno, “never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.” Despite allegedly being told of the allegations, Paterno, the most powerful man on campus, did little to stop it, according to the Freeh Report.

Paterno’s coaching career ended quickly that year after the scandal broke. The school terminated his contract in response to the allegations against Sandusky, who was Paterno’s former defensive coordinator.

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Many believed Paterno was involved in a cover-up. His statue came down from Penn State’s campus.

In 2012, the NCAA vacated all of Penn State’s wins from 1998 through 2011 as part of its punishment for the child abuse scandal.

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Somehow, in 2015, in a settlement with Penn State, the lame NCAA reversed its decision and restored all 111 wins to Paterno’s record.

It was just window dressing and didn’t change the fact that Paterno let so many down by not taking action against a dangerous person under his watch.

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The same ultimately will hold true for Bo’s legacy when it is rewritten.

Bo has been dead and gone since 2006. He left coaching in 1989 and became the Detroit Tigers’ president in 1990. And despite never winning a national championship in his career, he was revered and loved by most of the maize and blue faithful.

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But it’s hard to imagine those same people can look the other way when they read about the reporting done on these tragic events.

According to the Detroit Free Press:

Several football players notified Schembechler about Anderson’s behavior, the report says. A member of the football team in the late 1970s said to police he asked the coach ‘soon’ after an exam ‘What’s up with the finger in the butt treatment by Dr. Anderson?’

Schembechler told the player to ‘toughen up,’ according to the report ...

Those who covered Bo said he ruled his football program with an iron fist and was in total control of it. They say, there was nothing going on that he didn’t know.

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In this case, that makes Bo not a legend, but a disgrace.