Bo's Son Details Abuse: 'I Hoped My Father Would Protect Me, But He Didn't'

A difficult situation for the University of Michigan just became far more difficult after today's press conference.
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If there's one thing that's clear after today, it's that the University of Michigan has a big problem on it's hands that isn't going away anytime soon.  

In what was roughly an hour long press conference on Thursday, Matt Schembechler - son of legendary Michigan Football head coach Bo Schembechler - detailed the abuse he says he experienced at the hands of former Michigan team doctor, Dr. Robert Anderson.  To make matters worse, Schembechler claims that he approached his father [Bo] after the first incident with Dr. Anderson and that Bo wasn't interested in hearing it.

bo schembechler statue

Below are key parts of Matt Schembechler's statement.

"Prior to this week, the story I'm sharing with you today has only been shared with my attorneys and four other people - my mother Millie, my deceased brother Chip, Don Canham and my father Bo.  It's a deeply personal and painful story of abuse and betrayal - abuse by a trusted doctor and betrayal of my father and the University of Michigan, which he served."

"My father sent me to Dr. Robert Anderson for my first physical exam around 1969.  I was in the fourth grade and had to get a physical before starting tackle football with the junior Wolverines.  Dr. Anderson was the team doctor, so that's where Bo sent me for my exam.  As a 10 year old, I didn't really know what to expect. But what Dr. Anderson did made me uncomfortable.  He fondled my genitals and conducted an invasive rectal exam with his finger.  I told my mom as soon as I got home because I was uncomfortable and shaken.  She was a registered nurse, and after she had heard what Anderson did, she knew something was wrong.  She wanted me to tell my dad in her presence."

"When Bo got home, I told him what happened.  It did not go well.  Bo's temper was legendary and he lost it.  He screamed, 'I don't want to hear this, I'm not hearing this.'"

"I tried to tell him repeatedly but my effort earned me a punch in the chest.  This was the beginning of the end of the relationship with him.  I hoped my father would protect me but he didn't."

"My mom didn't give up.  She went over Bo's head and asked athletic director Don Canham to come to the house in the following days and hear what occurred.  I respected Don Canham and told him what happened to me at the hands of Dr. Anderson.  Mr. Canham told my mother, 'Ok I'll handle this, Millie.'  It was my understanding that Mr. Canham terminated Dr. Anderson.  Shortly thereafter, Bo had him (Dr. Anderson) reinstated because he needed his team doctor and wanted to insure that Anderson remained part of the Michigan team."

"In the 10th grade, I needed another football physical and that meant another trip to Dr. Anderson.  This time, I was a little older but still was told to respect doctors.  Anderson groped me once again before I stopped him, as it made me feel uncomfortable."

"The final time I saw [Dr.] Anderson was as a college freshman for another physical exam as I was just about to start football with Western Michigan.  This time, Anderson didn't lay a hand on me - he just signed the paper clearing me to play."

"Many of the University of Michigan players weren't as fortunate.  I trained with them during the summers in the mid-70's and heard their stories and locker room jokes about Anderson's abuse."

"I understand the reverence people have for my father, including Jim Harbaugh.  But I know the truth.  Anderson abused me and countless others over three decades.  It's clear that the culture of abuse at the University of Michigan has not changed and will not change until they acknowledge what happened."

"Anderson was able to continue this abuse for so long because he was supported by a culture that placed the reputation of the University above the health and safety of the students.  That is the culture that made my father a legend and placed his statue in front of Schembechler Hall."

"It's very clear that Bo and the University always put themselves before any student athlete or son, just to support the brand."

"I'm coming forward for my own healing and to help prevent people and institutions from exploiting the trust, power, and authority given to them.  I sincerely hope that, in some way, we'll be protecting others where Bo and the University failed to protect me."

Schembechler was also joined by two former University of Michigan Football players, Daniel Kwiatkowski and Gilvanni Johnson.

Matt Schembechler

Both Kwiatkowski and Johnson claim they had approached Bo Schembechler after being sexually assualted by Dr. Anderson, and both claim that Schembechler did nothing to put an end to it.

"After practice one day, I approached Bo and reported to him that Dr. Anderson had digitally raped my rectum", said Kwiatkowski.  "Bo looked at me and said, 'toughen up'.  Bo knew, I knew.  Then I was on my own and Bo was never going to protect us from Dr. Anderson."

"After I reported to Bo what Dr. Anderson had done, Bo forced me to attend three more physicals with Dr. Anderson in '78, '79 and '81.  Dr. Anderson violated me again and again.  I graduated and moved on from U of M, but the scars of what happened to me by Dr. Anderson and Bo never went away."

Gilvanni Johnson then shared his experience.

"Before my preseason physical my freshman year, you would hear a couple of passing jokes about seeing 'Dr. Anal'. I really didn't know what 'Dr. Anal' meant, but I was told to see Dr. Anderson for my physical.  When I had my exam, Dr. Anderson commented on my genitals, played with my genitals, tried to arouse me and put his finger in my anus.  The exam was very painful.  I felt humiliated and confused."

"I had to go back to Dr. Anderson again, for either a cold or injury, same thing took place.  I had a rectal exam and he played with my penis.  After that occasion, I told Bo that Dr. Anderson played with my genitals and put his finger in my anus.  Bo said that he would check that with the medical staff.  I never heard back from Bo and he never discussed it with me again.  Other players told me not to bring it up with Bo again, for fear that Bo might pull my scholarship.  I was told not to rock the boat."