Editor’s note: On Saturday afternoon, The Daily Northwestern published a report in which an anonymous player claimed this hazing consisted of unwanted sexual and emotional abuse. Hours later, per ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, the Northwestern football team responded to those claims with a statement that can be found here.
It keeps getting worse for Northwestern football.
In a report produced by ArentFox Schiff lawyer Maggie Hickey, credible accusations of hazing were found inside the ‘Cats’ program. While the investigation was unable to identify specific players or coaches who were involved in the hazing, there was widespread knowledge of hazing between players. The investigation concluded that the coaches were unaware of the incidents; however, head coach Pat Fitzgerald has been suspended for two weeks without pay, effective immediately, and other restrictions have been imposed on the program.
“Hazing in any form is unacceptable and goes against our core values at Northwestern, where we strive to make the University a safe and welcoming environment for all of our students,” Northwestern’s President Michael Schill said in a statement. “Our athletics programs are held to the highest standards, and in this case, we failed to meet them. I expect that today’s actions will prevent this from ever happening again.”
In an executive summary of the investigation, released by Northwestern, Hickey found that incidents occurred in the locker room or at “Camp Kenosha,” where the Wildcats used to hold their training camp. While the investigation did not find sufficient evidence to reveal coaches were aware of the hazing, Hickey found that “there had been significant opportunities to discover and report the hazing conduct.” As a result of the investigation, NU will now require an individual not affiliated with the football team to monitor the locker room. In addition, the Wildcats will permanently discontinue “Camp Kenosha.”
“I was very disappointed when I heard about the allegations of hazing on our football team,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “Northwestern football prides itself on producing not just athletes, but fine young men with character befitting the program and our University. We hold our student-athletes and our program to the highest standards; we will continue to work to exceed those standards moving forward.”
This is not the first time Northwestern Athletics has had a hazing scandal. In 2006, NU’s women’s soccer team was suspended due to hazing.
“Northwestern Athletics prides itself on providing a world-class student-athlete experience, which includes a safe and respectful environment for all of our students, coaches and staff,” Northwestern Athletic Director Dr. Derrick Gragg said in a statement. “We respect the courage of the individuals who came forward to make us aware of the issue, and we vow to do our part to create a more positive environment moving forward.”
Inside NU will continue to update the story as more details become available.