Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald fired amid hazing scandal

Northwestern has fired longtime head coach Pat Fitzgerald amid the hazing scandal within Wildcats’ football program that broke over the weekend.

President Michael Schill released a statement earlier in the week announcing Fitzgerald’s departure from the university.

northwesternHe has been the head coach of the Wildcats since 2006, going 110-101, including 5-5 in bowl games.

A recent story from ABC7 Chicago detailed the coach’s firing as well as the allegations from some of the football players.

Below is an excerpt from the ABC7 Chicago story.

Fitzgerald was suspended for two weeks without pay, as disturbing allegations continue to emerge about hazing within the football program. He released a statement to ESPN on Monday night:

Former and current Northwestern football players have been speaking out in the wake of hazing allegations, sharing their own stories.

Schill said during the course of the investigation, 11 current or former Wildcat football players acknowledged the hazing has been ongoing, and even more former players confirmed “the hazing was systemic dating back many years.”

According to Schill, the hazing included “forced participation, nudity, and sexualized act of a degrading nature” that clearly violated school policy. The president said to his knowledge no student was physically injured as a result of the hazing.

The hazing was well-known by many in the program, Schill said, though he allowed there was no “credible evidence” that Fitzgerald himself knew.

“The head coach is ultimately responsible for the culture of his team. The hazing we investigated was widespread and clearly not a secret within the program, providing Coach Fitzgerald with the opportunity to learn what was happening. Either way, the culture in Northwestern Football, while incredible in some ways, was broken in others,” Schill wrote in his message to the Northwestern community.

Over the weekend, the university’s student-run newspaper ran an interview with a former player, who described in agonizing detail sexualized hazing practices he said routinely take place inside the locker room. One common practice, called “running,” involved a younger player being restrained while eight to 10 older players engaged in a sexualized act in the locker room. Versions of “running” took place during certain portions of the year, including Thanksgiving and Christmas.
To read the full story from ABC7 Chicago, click here.