Northwestern Implements Measures to Address Hazing in Football Program

Northwestern Implements Measures to Address Hazing in Football Program

Northwestern University is taking decisive action to address hazing within its football program. In response to the findings of an investigation that substantiated a claim of problematic conduct, Coach Pat Fitzgerald, who has led the Wildcats since 2006, will be suspended without pay for two weeks, starting this Friday. It is worth noting that preseason practices are not scheduled to begin until early August.

In addition to the suspension, several other measures have been put in place. The team will no longer hold off-campus practices in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where preseason training had been conducted for many years. Furthermore, the football locker room will now be monitored by an individual who is not accountable to Coach Fitzgerald or his staff.

Expressing his disappointment in a statement, Fitzgerald emphasized Northwestern football’s commitment to producing not just athletes, but outstanding young men who exemplify the values of the program and the university. He affirmed their dedication to upholding the highest standards and their ongoing efforts to surpass them.

The university initiated an investigation, led by attorney Maggie Hickey of the ArentFox Schiff LLP firm, in January. The inquiry, which involved over 50 individuals currently or formerly associated with the program, focused on a claim made by an anonymous whistleblower. The investigation determined that while player accounts varied and there was insufficient evidence to suggest that coaches were aware of the conduct, one claim was supported. The incidents of hazing took place primarily in the team locker room and likely originated at “Camp Kenosha,” where the team had conducted preseason training until 2020.

The executive summary of the investigation clarified that there was no evidence implicating any specific player or coach in misconduct. However, it revealed that hazing activities were pervasive among football players.

University President Michael Schill expressed his strong disapproval of any form of hazing, emphasizing that it contradicts Northwestern’s core values. He acknowledged that the university had failed to meet its own high standards in this case and stated his expectation that the actions taken today would prevent such incidents from recurring. Schill also mentioned the creation of an online tool for reporting alleged hazing activities and the mandatory anti-hazing training that all coaches, players, and staff will be required to undergo, with a specific focus on reporting procedures.

Northwestern University’s proactive response to the hazing allegations underscores its commitment to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all students. By holding its athletics programs to the highest standards and implementing measures to prevent hazing, the university aims to ensure that such conduct has no place within its football program or any other aspect of campus life. As Northwestern moves forward, it will continue working diligently to exceed its own expectations and foster a culture of respect, integrity, and accountability.


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