Matt Schembechler says he told Bo he was molested by Michigan’s team doctor when he was 10 years old, and that his father ensured the doctor remained employed.
Matt Schembechler, the 62-year-old son of former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, said that he told his father that he was molested by former team doctor Robert Anderson during a physical in the 1960s. The legendary coach allegedly ignored the accusation and took great lengths to ensure Anderson kept his job, according to ESPN’s Dan Murphy.
Matt alleges that Anderson molested him when he was 10 years old, saying Anderson fondled him and did an “anal probe” when he saw the doctor for a sports physical. When he told his father about the incident, Matt says Bo became physically violent with Matt and his mother, saying he didn’t want to hear about it.
“That was the first time he closed-fist punched me,” Matt told ESPN. “It knocked me all the way across the kitchen.”
Anderson worked at the school for nearly 40 years from 1966 to 2003. He regularly administered athletes’ physicals, and hundreds of former patients say Anderson abused and harassed them during routine medical visits.
An independent investigation by the WilmerHale firm earlier this year confirmed the reports, calling Anderson’s behavior, “not consistent with any recognized standard of care and was, on the contrary, grossly improper.”
ESPN reports that Matt described a fraught relationship with his father, describing Bo as a bully who made home life difficult. Bo, who was Matt’s adoptive father after marrying Matt’s mother, died in 2006 at age 77, while Anderson died in 2008.
Bo was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993 and spent 21 years as Michigan’s head coach, leading the Wolverines to 13 Big Ten titles. He was also the school’s athletic director from 1988 to 1990.
Matt says that his mother told then-university athletic director Don Canham about Anderson’s abuse, and that Canham was prepared to fire Anderson before Bo intervened on Anderson’s behalf.
“Bo went to bat for Anderson and got him back working again,” Matt said. “He wasn’t going to have anybody change his team.”
Almost 900 former patients have alleged abuse by Anderson and hired legal representation, including Matt.
Bo’s biological son, Glenn Schembechler, denies Matt’s version of the events, saying he’s sure that nobody told Bo about the abuse.
“I can tell you unequivocally no one ever told Bo,” Bo’s other son Glenn Schembechler said last summer, per ESPN. “Bo would have done something. … Bo would have fired him.”
Matt says he never told anyone else about Anderson’s abuse, even after hearing other athletes talk about Anderson while growing up. He saw Anderson twice more for physicals—in high school and before his freshman season in college—and that he stopped Anderson when he reached for his genitals during the second appointment.
Matt says he’s coming forward publicly with his story now to show people that there are consequences for allowing abuse to occur, and that his father’s handling of the situation outweighs any accomplishments he accrued on the field.
“He was a great coach and made a lot of people happy. He made a ton of money for the University of Michigan filling that stadium up. He provided, for most of those kids that played for him, a great experience. Maybe it was the greatest experience of their life,” Matt said to ESPN. “I think he was a horrible human being.”