Calls Begin to Take Down Statue of Storied Coach

Bo Schembechler's son would support the move
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2021 4:05 PM CDT
Calls Begin to Take Down Statue of Storied Coach
Matt Schembechler, son of former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, participates in a news conference Thursday in Novi, Michigan.   (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

As the University of Michigan confronts the sexual abuse athletes said they were subjected to by a football team doctor decades ago, reconsideration of famed coach Bo Schembechler's legacy will be included. The coach's son has said he told his father he'd been abused in 1969. Matt Schembechler and other victims say they want the reckoning to begin with an apology from the university. Michigan issued a statement Thursday expressing sympathy for the victims, the Detroit Free Press reports. "We condemn and apologize for the tragic misconduct of the late Dr. Robert Anderson, who left the University 17 years ago and died 13 years ago," the statement said. That wasn't enough for Gilvanni Johnson, one of Anderson's accusers. "They threw a blanket apology," Johnson said, per Michigan Live, adding that he wants "an apology for us—the victims."

The university's esteem for the longtime winning coach is represented by the statue that stands outside Schembechler Hall, the office of the football program, in Ann Arbor. It reflects an aggressive coach during a game, headset in hand. The reverence for Schembechler may conflict with the reality of a coach who didn't protect his players from a predator. The former athletes didn't say the statue should come down, but they said there should be accountability for the coach, who died in 2006. "Bo knew," his son's lawyer said. Columnists in the Free Press and Detroit News have urged the statue's removal. "There's no simple way to end the shame for Michigan," Bob Wojnowski wrote in the News. But, he added, "There are ways to express contrition and compassion and accept responsibility." Matt Schembechler said the statue's future is up to the university, but added, "If it were my decision, it’s got to come down." (More Bo Schembechler stories.)

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