Michigan soccer voice Jim Brandstatter, whose comments on local radio broadcasts over the weekend drew considerable backlash, joins other former players in upholding the reputation of the late coach of the Michigan Bo Schembechler.
Brandstatter felt compelled to respond following a press conference last Thursday in which Schembechler’s son Matt Schembechler and former Michigan players Dan Kwiatkowski and Gilvanni Johnson said they were sexually assaulted by the former team doctor, Dr Robert Anderson. All three said they spoke to the coach about the assaults, but claimed he did not act to stop Anderson. A February 2020 story in The Detroit News detailed that of Robert Julian Stone accusations that Anderson sexually assaulted him in 1971. Since his revelation, 850 accusers have come forward and are in mediation with UM. Schembechler died in 2006. Anderson died in 2008.
âIt’s not just me. There are hundreds of other players who are struggling to accept these accusations and deal with the Bo Schembechler they knew, âBrandstatter told the Detroit News on Monday, referring to last week’s press conference.
Brandstatter said he is in communication with many former players who share his opinion.
âWe are as a group working together to support Shemy and Cathy who have both publicly stated that Matt’s comments are inaccurate,â Brandstatter said. âIf the media wants to ridicule me, then they ridicule Shemy, Bo Schembechler’s son, and Bo’s wife, Cathy, because they agreed that Matt’s statements were inaccurate.
Matt Schembechler’s comments in one-on-one newspaper interviews, including with The News last Wednesday evening, and during the press conference angered Brandstatter. He said the former players he spoke to agreed with his beliefs. Brandstatter doubled down on comments he made in radio interviews with WWJ-950 AM and 1290 WLBY over the weekend in an interview with The News.
âIsn’t there a feeling that reasonable doubt should come into play when you know the reputation of a man he’s spent a lifetime building? Said Brandstatter. “Reasonable doubt should be part of the equation and in this case you look at the context, and I would say that there is clearly a reasonable doubt on a number of these allegations from the people who were up there. , including Matt Schembechler. “
Matt Schembechler, 62, said Anderson abused him twice, first in 1969 when he was 10 and went to see him for a physical exam in order to play for a youth football team . He said he told his mother, Millie, and then his father, who got angry, hit him and said he didn’t want to hear about it. He claimed his mother called former MU’s athletic director Don Canham, who Matt said fired the doctor, for failing to the coach intervenes to keep him. Canham died in 2005.
Brandstatter said he and others he has spoken with question that timeline and memory.
âHe was the one who made the statement and his statement was that this was the first year that (Bo Schembechler) got there. So if he had to be in a small league football team and pass a physical exam, it probably would have happened in July-August, something like that. So Bo got the job in December 1968, Matt is 10 years old. It would have been, what, eight months later? Bo hadn’t coached a match yet, that’s a fact. All we had was winter conditioning at this point. I’m not sure if Bo knew who or why or what Dr Robert Anderson was, because all he wanted to know from his office was, who had had their physical exams, were they able to going to work during our winter training. If they have the paper they’re allowed to go, let’s go.
âI don’t know if he has had any interaction with Dr. Anderson, but the suggestion is – and I ask people to think about it in context – that he has had labor for eight months. He had not yet coached a match. He was not the Bo Schembechler of 1980 with championships and seasons of 10 wins and weight. He was a brand new guy from Miami, Ohio, that the papers were saying, âBo, who? And we’re told he told a sports director who was already in place and hired him eight months later before he even coached a game not to fire a guy and hire him back ? For me, that deserves a question. It provides a reasonable doubt that this story might not be factual or true. That’s all I’m saying. Look at the context, does it look like this?
âIt’s the same with the story of going to see your doctor alone on his bike at 10 years old for a physical exam. I’m just asking for the context. Millie Schembechler, I knew her. Volunteer woman. And she would never allow it in my opinion, but that’s only my opinion. But in the context, more than half of the mothers there, I think, yeah, that doesn’t make much sense to me either. Yet he says that, and people buy it like it’s a gospel. I’m just saying look at the context.
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Brandstatter was asked if he was concerned about appearing ashamed when expressing his opinions.
âI’m worried, but I’m not. This is not my intention, “he said.” My intention is very simple – to be very fair and find the truth. In this case, anyone in our society with our legal system, it is fundamental that the accused can face his accuser. In that case, it can’t happen. I just think you’re going down a really slippery slope. It can happen to anyone. I can tell all about you or n ‘doesn’t matter who and if I’m not there to defend myself, oh, that must be true. That is not necessarily correct. With Bo Schembechler, there are other extenuating circumstances in this regard as well, and I don’t think so. that you can take out of the equation the fact that there is a lawsuit going on and compensatory damages are at stake here.
âI sympathize with anyone who has been sexually abused. It is heinous behavior. But in my opinion, it is also very bad behavior to make an unfounded allegation against someone when that person cannot defend themselves. Bo Schembechler didn’t do that to them.
After: Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh Tells Bo Schembechler He Knew He Never “Ignored” Anything
Although Brandstatter has said there is a large group of players behind Schembechler to defend his character, he has been publicly the only voice on record defending his coach. Brandstatter was in Michigan when Schembechler took over in 1969. Brandstatter said he received medical exams from Dr. Anderson, but never had any problems.
âA lot of people have asked me for the motive. What is the motive?â Said Brandstatter. âI can’t get into someone’s head. I don’t know. All I know is that I get nothing but ridicule from the media and other people. I have nothing to gain. I have no money involved, I am not part of any lawsuit but whoever brought this accusation, there is a monetary settlement, I don’t think it’s mean or mean, it’s actually fair.
âI have nothing to gain. The only thing I have is to lose and is that people can ridicule and laugh and joke, but I don’t care. I just think Bo Schembechler deserves a defense and the people making these accusations deserve to be looked at. It is a question of fairness. I would say this about anyone who doesn’t have the chance to answer for themselves. Wait a minute, you’ve got to give this person a chance. Bo has been sentenced and it is not fair.
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