Athletic Director mishandled former wrestler's complaint on Robert Anderson

Thursday, April 16, 2020 - 2:31pm

U-M athletic director Warde Manuel mishandled a complaint from a former wrestler that alleged sexual assault  by Robert Anderson.

U-M athletic director Warde Manuel mishandled a complaint from a former wrestler that alleged sexual assault by Robert Anderson. Buy this photo
Alec Cohen/Daily

Instead of forwarding a letter alleging Robert Anderson, the late University of Michigan sports physician, of sexual assault to the University Title IX investigators, Athletic Director Warde Manuel forwarded it to University lawyers, according to a report from the Detroit Free Press.

Because of this, the University’s team of lawyers allegedly received notice of Anderson’s abuse before its Title IX investigators, which is in violation of Manuel’s responsibilities in the role. 

University policies on responsible employees state “responsible employees must immediately report any information they learn about suspected Prohibited Conduct to OIE (Office of Institutional Equity) or the Title IX Coordinator.” As the Athletic Director, Manuel is considered a “responsible employee” and thus responsible to report to one of these bodies, which he allegedly did not in sending it to the lawyers.

In an email to The Daily, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the letter shared in the article was shared immediately to OIE, and was shared with University lawyers at the same time. 

“The very day that Warde Manuel received it, he shared it with the Office of the General Counsel and it was shared with OIE,” Fitzgerald wrote. “The fact that there was no delay whatsoever getting the letter to OIE is the most important point we want to make.

Tad DeLuca, former University wrestler, sent the letter detailing Anderson’s abuse in 1975 to Manuel on July 18, 2018. The letter was a resubmission of a previous version sent to Don Canham, the late athletic director at the time. After sending it to Canham, DeLuca was removed from the wrestling team.

According to a police report obtained by the Detroit Free Press under the Freedom of Information Act, Manuel received DeLuca’s letter and immediately forwarded it to the University of Michigan General Counsel Office. Then, the letter was sent to Pamela Heatlie, OIE’s Title IX investigator.

The U-M Police Department launched an investigation when they were informed on Oct. 3, 2018, according to the article. 

Former students and University employees have spoken out about Anderson’s sexual misconduct during medical examinations. Assistant Athletic Director Paul Schmidt was recently implicated in knowing about Anderson’s misconduct. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel tweeted regarding the article. 

“I understand that in this instance the perpetrator was deceased, but it would be great if from now on, as a general rule, institutions would pass along allegations of sexual assault to law enforcement instead of to their own lawyers,” Nessel wrote. “Sexual assault is a CRIME.”

Daily Staff Reporter Francesca Duong can be reached at fduong@umich.edu.