A letter consisting of more than 100 signatures of former players and coaches was released on Friday in defense of former Michigan head football coach, Bo Schembechler. Among the names attached to the letter was Jack Harbaugh, father of current Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh. Jack served as an assistant coach on Schembechlers staff from 1973-1979.
Harbaugh's defense of Bo Schembechler comes just days after a group of former University of Michigan students and student athletes held a press conference near Michigan Stadium to detail their abuse at the hands of former University doctor Robert Anderson. In addition to the misconduct carried out by Anderson for over three decades as an employee at the University of Michigan, multiple survivors have also come forward to make clear that Schembechler was aware of exactly what was happening.
Contrary to what the survivors have claimed, many still maintain that Schembechler would have acted appropriately if he had known that Anderson was sexually assaulting student athletes.
The letter that was released on Friday was signed by several prominent members of the Michigan Football family, including Jack Harbaugh, Jim Brandstatter, Jon Falk, Mark Donahue, Steve Everitt. John Kolesar, Reggie McKenzie and Mark Messner.
You can read the full letter below:
"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."