Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald suspended in hazing inquiry

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Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald received a two-week suspension without pay following an independent investigation into allegations of hazing within the program, the university announced Friday.

The suspension begins Friday for the 48-year-old Fitzgerald, who has been the head coach of the Big Ten program since 2006. The Wildcats will begin preseason practices in early August.

The university received a complaint in late November alleging instances of hazing that occurred inside the team’s locker room and at Kenosha, Wis. Investigators spoke with more than 50 people currently or previously affiliated with the program and reviewed emails and player survey data dating back to 2014, per the executive summary of the probe.

“The investigation team determined that the complainant’s claims were largely supported by the evidence gathered during the investigation, including separate and consistent first-person accounts from current and former players,” per the summary.

“While the investigation did not uncover evidence pointing to specific misconduct by any individual football player or coach, participation in or knowledge of the hazing activities was widespread across football players.”

“I was very disappointed when I heard about the allegations of hazing on our football team,” Fitzgerald said. “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.”

Northwestern president Michael Schill provided the following statement:

“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. 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 addition to Fitzgerald’s suspension, Northwestern also announced the following changes:

–Football practices at “Camp Kenosha” will be permanently discontinued.

–The University will require monitoring of the locker room by someone who doesn’t report to the football coaching staff.

–The University will create an online reporting tool specifically for student athletes to anonymously report incidents of potential hazing or hazing-related concerns.

–The University will require annual mandatory anti-hazing training for all coaches, staff members and athletes, with an emphasis on reporting options, the duties to report and discipline for future violations.

The Wildcats are coming off a 1-11 record in 2022. They will open the 2023 season at Rutgers on Sept. 3.

Fitzgerald is 110-101 with 10 bowl appearances (5-5 record) in 17 seasons as the head coach at his alma mater.

–Field Level Media

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