Protesters deface statue of Michigan coach accused of covering up sexual assaults
A statue of former University of Michigan head football coach Glenn “Bo” Schembechler, who has been accused of covering up sexual assaults on players during his coaching tenure, was defaced Tuesday night with paint and a message from demonstrators supporting sexual assault victims, The Associated Press reported.
The message, left on the steps of the school’s football building, read “Bo knew #hailtothevictims.”
This comes as hundreds of people are suing the university, claiming that Robert Anderson, a team medical doctor, sexually assaulted Michigan players during his decades-long medical career.
Several people, including Schembechler’s son, Matt Schembechler, said they told the coach about Anderson’s abuse toward players, the Detriot Free Press reported.
University of Michigan spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said in a statement that the school will investigate the statue defacement fully “in order to hold those responsible accountable for their actions,” per the Free Press.
“We understand and appreciate the passionate advocacy on behalf of those who were abused by the late Robert Anderson,” Fitzgerald said in the statement. “But the vandalism to the University of Michigan statue of Bo Schembechler will be investigated fully in order to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.”
The Free Press also noted that it received an anonymous email from a person who claimed responsibility for the defacement and confirmed it had been motivated by the sexual assault claims.
“This action is done in solidarity with the Hail to the Victims campaign,” the emailed statement said. “Bo Schembechler is long seen as an iconic Michigan coach, but he knew that Robert Anderson, the team’s doctor in the 1970s and 1980s, was sexually assaulting countless players each year.”
Bo Schembechler died in 2006. He was the head coach of Michigan football for 20 years between 1969 and 1989, leading the team to 194 victories and earning a reputation as the greatest coach in the history of the school’s program, according to the AP.
The Free Press reported that the University of Michigan’s ground crew were working to remove the red paint from Schembechler’s statue on Wednesday.
The Hill has reached out to the University of Michigan for comment.