Fans of famed rivals Ohio State University and the University of Michigan often boast of how little they have in common. But two of America’s biggest college sports programs are bonded by one issue: a history of sexual abuse perpetuated by team doctors.
On Saturday OSU and Michigan battled in front of 110,000 fans on the football field – an occasion so momentous it’s known simply as The Game. But elsewhere on the Michigan campus former athletes from both universities gathered in front of Michigan president Mark Schlissel’s house to shine a light on the sexual abuse they endured during their time at the colleges. The protest was spearheaded by Jon Vaughn, a former running back for Michigan, who went on to play four years in the NFL. Now, despite the longstanding rivalry between the universities, the men have formed a survivor solidarity group.
“Toxic masculinity is an overused term, but I’m putting my name on this, because some other man is out there struggling with their own trauma and the stigma attached,” said Tom Lisy, a wrestler at OSU in the late 1980s. He was abused by an OSU team doctor, Richard Strauss, and had driven from Cleveland to attend the protest. “If sexual assault can happen to the men on the field – these athletes – then it can happen to anyone. I’m out here raising awareness of that,” said Lisy.
For seven weeks and despite increasingly frigid temperatures, Vaughn and a rotation of fellow survivors from in and out of state, have slept outside Schlissel’s home, speaking to students and passersby about former Michigan team doctor Robert Anderson. Hundreds of former Michigan athletes have accused Anderson of abusing them between 1966 to 2003. The survivors of his abuse, who include prominent football and basketball players, allege Anderson fondled them and repeatedly performed…