EVANSTON, Ill. — The conclusion of an investigation into hazing allegations within the Northwestern University football program has brought changes along with punishment for its leader.
On Friday, it was announced that head coach Pat Fitzgerald will be suspended for two weeks without pay after the investigation found “evidence to corroborate claims made by an anonymous whistleblower regarding hazing activities and events.”
The investigation was launched in December 2022 and was led by Maggie Hickey of ArentFox Schiff, a former inspector general of Illinois. In the report, she said that the anonymous whistleblower’s claims against the program were “largely supported by the evidence.”
Fitzgerald will begin serving that suspension immediately, which would make him available for the start of Wildcats training camp later this summer.
“I was very disappointed when I heard about the allegations of hazing on our football team,” said Fitzgerald in a statement released by Northwestern University. “Although I was not aware of the alleged incidents, I have spoken to University officials, and they informed me of a two-week suspension, effective immediately.
“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.”
At the same time, Northwestern will no longer conduct preseason training camp practices in Kenosha, Wisconsin. That has been a tradition for the program that dates back to the Gary Barnett years in the 1990s and was held annually at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
Per the recommendations of Hickey, the team will also have monitoring of the football locker room by someone who doesn’t report to the football staff along with the ability for student-athletes to anonymously report incidents of hazing.
Along with these measures, coaches, staff, and players will also receive anti-hazing training.
“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,” said Northwestern University president Michael Schill. “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.”
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