Michigan Wolverines head football coach Jim Harbaugh was present at the Sound Mind Sound Body football camp at Ferris State on Thursday, one of the biggest recruiting events locally. He was asked by a group of reporters to address how U-M should proceed in honoring the legacy of famed former coach Bo Schembechler, whose name adorns the football building with a statue of him out front of it.
Schembechler has been a controversial figure as of late given his name appearing in the independent investigation of former Michigan doctor Robert Anderson.
Anderson is accused of several decades of sexual abuse while working in the athletic department, which included the football team. The findings of the investigation showed that Schembechler was among the dozens of U-M employees made aware of Anderson’s behavior toward athletes over several years.
This has created a conversation around whether or not the university should continue to honor Schembechler’s legacy the way it does. Harbaugh was asked at the camp how he feels about his former mentor.
“Well, I can tell you this,” Harbaugh said. “Bo Schembechler — there was nothing that I saw during the times I was a kid here, my dad was on the staff, or when I played here — he never sat on anything. He never procrastinated anything. I mean, he took care of it before the sun went down. That’s the Bo Schembechler that I know.
“Nothing was ever swept under the rug or ignored. He addressed everything in a timely fashion. That’s the Bo Schembechler that I know.”
The WilmerHale report (which was released three weeks ago and can be read in full here) noted at least four instances where victims say they made Schembechler aware of the abuse. The law firm was hired by U-M to run the independent investigation, which stated that Schembechler and others in positions of power were made aware of abuse but did little to stop it, if anything at all. Schembechler died in 2006. Anderson passed away in 2008.
The university is currently in mediation with around 850 accusers, according to The Detroit News. The report also states that there was frequent “locker room talk” about Anderson’s exams, as well as alleging a former assistant coach would use them as motivation in practices.