Schembechler Apology Falls a Little Short

Only three days after he was hired, Glenn Schembechler resigned Saturday as assistant director of recruiting for the University of Michigan football team. Football fans discovered and were appalled by some of Mr. Schembechler’s “likes” and re-tweets on his Twitter account, including racist posts as well as support of the January 6, 2021, invasion of the Capitol.

In one portion of his apology statement, Mr. Schembechler said, “My sincerest apologies, again and profusely, to anyone that I have offended …”

Although the statement was issued through a public relations firm, it misses one of the cardinal elements of a good apology: take responsibility. The phrase, “to anyone I’ve offended” sounds too much like, “You shouldn’t have been offended, and if you were, it’s your problem.” It implies that he doesn’t know whether he offended anyone – but the storm of fans complaining about his social media posts indicates there were plenty of people who were “offended.” Why not substitute “everyone” for “anyone”?  Or better yet, “I realize that my comments were offensive and have hurt many.”

Pointing out that “we have all made mistakes” also doesn’t have a place in a sincere apology. That’s for his listeners to note, not him.

Other parts of his apology were good, including the straight-up admission, “I was wrong.”

Which all goes to show, once again, that it’s tough to make a good public apology.