Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald is facing potentially harsh discipline over a hazing investigation, but it does not sound like the punishment will be enough for the former player who came forward with allegations.
Fitzgerald last Friday was suspended without pay for two weeks following a hazing investigation that Northwestern launched in January. The investigation found that one allegation from an anonymous whistleblower was supported, though Fitzgerald insisted he had no knowledge of any hazing.
Then on Saturday, an anonymous former Northwestern football player spoke with the school’s newspaper, the Daily Northwestern, and shared a series of troubling new allegations. The former player, who described the hazing as “absolutely egregious and vile,” said the behavior involved coerced sexual acts and that Fitzgerald may have encouraged it.
The former player told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg that he spoke with Northwestern president Michael Schill on Sunday. Schill said he “may have erred” with his initial discipline for Fitzgerald and is considering a harsher punishment.
“Fitz absolutely knew about hazing in this program,” the former player told Rittenberg. “Fitz absolutely failed by not intervening. Fitz knew, and he should have made it stop; and if he truly did not know, he should not be the head coach. Either way, he should not be the head coach, because he is not monitoring and protecting the safety and well-being of student-athletes.”
Northwestern players released a statement on Saturday supporting Fitzgerald and calling the hazing allegations “exaggerated and twisted.” One anonymous current Wildcats player told ESPN that the whistleblower informed the current player of a detailed plan to try to get Fitzgerald fired and then some.
“He just kept emphasizing, ‘Yeah, it’ll be OK. I’m just trying to get Coach Fitz fired,'” the current player alleged. “I don’t think he ever acknowledged what he’s saying is not true. It was just like, ‘I might embellish or exaggerate to get Coach Fitz fired.’ He said his sole goal was to see Coach Fitz rot in jail. The truth is none of that stuff happened in our locker room.”
The former player admitted to ESPN that he wants Fitzgerald fired but said he also wanted to shed light on “an absolutely barbaric and egregious culture that ultimately lies on the shoulders of the head coach.”
You can read more details of the whistleblower’s allegations here.
Fitzgerald has been the head coach at Northwestern since 2006.