Northwestern faculty call for release of investigation findings


Northwestern faculty formally requested the university make public the findings of the hazing investigation that led to the dismissal of head coach Pat Fitzgerald.

In a letter to the university president and other school officials, a group of six faculty at the private university and residents of Evanston, Ill., called for the delay of a planned $800 million renovation to Ryan Field, the Wildcats’ football stadium.

Fitzgerald, head coach at Northwestern since 2006, was fired on Monday with $42 million remaining on his contract. That decision came three days after the original discipline for Fitzgerald was a two-week suspension without pay, all stemming from an independent investigation that found hazing allegations were “largely supported by evidence.”

A player came forward to the student newspaper, the Daily Northwestern, and revealed that the investigation was not just into allegations of hazing, but alleged coerced sexual acts.

Fitzgerald was also accused of presiding over a “culture of enabling racism.”

There have also been calls for support for Fitzgerald from some former players and alumni.

University president Michael Schill wrote a letter to the Northwestern community Saturday night admitting that the school “may have erred” in the severity of its discipline. Schill then confirmed reports of Fitzgerald’s firing with another letter Monday evening.

“This afternoon, I informed Head Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald that he was being relieved of his duties effective immediately,” Schill wrote Monday. “The decision comes after a difficult and complex evaluation of my original discipline decision imposed last week on Coach Fitzgerald for his failure to know and prevent significant hazing in the football program.”

Schill said he spent “a great deal of time” discussing the matter with the board of trustees, faculty, students, alumni “and Coach Fitzgerald himself.”

Northwestern athletic director Derrick Gragg, a former NCAA executive and AD at Tulsa and Eastern Michigan University, was in contact with Schill while on a scheduled overseas vacation, which he reportedly returned from Tuesday. He is reportedly scheduled to meet with the team later Tuesday.

Gragg took over in June 2021 after the resignation of Mike Polisky, previously deputy AD at Northwestern, just days into the job. Polisky stepped down in May 2021 after being named in a sexual harassment lawsuit by former Wildcats cheerleaders.

–Field Level Media

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