Detroit Media Omits Dr. Anderson Scandal From Coverage Of Former Michigan Football Coach Gary Moeller’s Death
When former Michigan State basketball star Adreian Payne was shot and killed in May, many demanded the media include in its coverage of his death sexual assault allegations that had been made against him some 12 years prior. Those allegations never even amounted to formal criminal charges, let alone a conviction, yet a large group of media consumers wanted that chapter included in the official story of Payne's life and death.
Conspicuously, many of the people making that demand were Michigan fans.
I've noticed, though, that there's no such resounding chorus calling for the inclusion of the Dr. Robert Anderson sex abuse scandal in the media's coverage of former Michigan football coach Gary Moeller's death. And, even more conspicuously, I haven't been able to find a single news story on his passing that makes even a glancing reference to one of the worst sexual assault scandals to ever happen in the sports world.
That's surprising since Moeller's time with Michigan football directly overlapped with Anderson's tenure as the official team doctor. Moeller was on the U-M staff in some capacity from 1969 to 1976, then again from 1980 to 1994, the last five of those years as head coach. Anderson was the team doctor from 1979 to 2003.
Many former Wolverine football players have come forward with their accounts of having been sexually assaulted by Anderson during their time with the team. Some of those players were coached by Moeller, either while he was an assistant or when he was the top guy in Ann Arbor.
How can that detail be omitted from the story of Moeller's life?
I'm not suggesting that we need to speak ill of the dead. Moeller was beloved by many — obviously his family, friends, players, and associates are heartbroken now. Many media members have offered warm tributes since his passing, recalling Moeller as kind, honest, and a good man.
I believe all of those accounts. But I also believe the hundreds of people who have come forward with their heartbreaking and harrowing accounts of abuse at the hands of Anderson. And some of those avoidable tragedies transpired while Moeller was a coach in some capacity at Michigan.
It doesn't surprise me that fans can be so blatantly hypocritical. The same people who were eager to remind us of sexual assault allegations from 2010 when Payne's body wasn't even cold are now conspicuously silent about the lack of coverage of Moeller's and Anderson's contemporaneous terms at U-M. Fan is short for "fanatic," after all.
But the media should be above that. When Payne's life was cut tragically short, most reporters and editors decided those allegations were part of his story and, as such, belonged in the coverage of his death. Those same reporters and editors have made a wholly different decision in the case of Moeller. But why?
It's probably because, when it comes to U-M, media and fans are often one and the same.