The similarities between team physicians Dr. Robert E. Anderson and Dr. Richard Strauss
The University of Michigan’s sexual misconduct investigation into former athletic department team physician, Dr. Robert E. Anderson, is leading to comparisons with former Ohio State University team physician, Dr. Richard Strauss. The careers of the two team doctors crossed during the 1979-1997 time period.
Both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Strauss were enabled by top university officials who chose to ignore the “red flag” warnings and gave the two unfettered access to young college students. Ironically, it was the former Athletic Directors of both schools that had the knowledge and could have acted to stop further abuse. In the case of Ohio State, it was Andy Geiger, and at U-M, it was Don Canham.
The two doctors were each terminated at some point in their respective university careers over sexual misconduct concerns, but with university backing, quickly gained access to students again.
In the case of Dr. Anderson, he was terminated from the U-M University Health Service in 1980 but quickly was retained by the Athletic Department as its team physician for the football team and a yet unknown number of other team sports. Dr. Strauss meanwhile was terminated from his position as Ohio State University team physician for 16 sports but quickly established himself as a doctor for OSU students through a health clinic he established and promoted via the student newspaper.
The two doctors used their position of authority and appeared to have preyed on athletes that were fearful of losing their college scholarship if they complained. In 1975, Tad Deluca wrote a 9-page letter to his coach, Bill Johannesen, and then-athletic director, Don Canham, outlining the abuse from Dr. Anderson. Deluca reportedly lost his scholarship and was kicked off the wrestling team. That was the same fear that a former Ohio State diver had over the reporting of Dr. Strauss, “I was afraid to say anything because I had a full scholarship,” said the diver.
Shame also drove victims of both Dr. Strauss and Dr. Anderson not to rock the boat. Some of the victims were the first in their family to attend college, and they relied on scholarships to pay tuition.
A Dr. Strauss victim and former wrestler dropped out of Ohio State University and never received his degree. He regrets his action as he believes the degree would have been life-changing, allowing him to work one job and raise a family instead of working three jobs and never seeing his kids. Another Strauss victim expressed the severe disappointment from his father when he quit the wrestling team and the strained relationship that still exists today.
Other similarities between Dr. Anderson and Dr. Strauss include:
- In both cases, there were rumors and whispers among athletes and students. It was not a secret.
- In both cases, there was a university indifference – no one did anything. Instead, they both placed students in harm’s way, knowing what was going on.
- In both cases, it took victims from years past to blow the whistle.
If you were a victim of Dr. Anderson’s sexual misconduct, please contact our University of Michigan sexual misconduct attorneys today for a free consultation.