Longtime Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald was fired on Monday, and it would appear he is planning to take legal action against the university.
Fitzgerald was initially suspended two weeks following allegations of hazing within the football program. Northwestern then changed course and fired Fitzgerald after the school’s student newspaper on Saturday published allegations from a whistleblower.
Northwestern’s initial investigation, which began in January, concluded that hazing did occur within the football program. However, there were questions about whether Fitzgerald or other coaches knew of the hazing. Some changes were implemented within the program in addition to the two-week suspension for the head coach.
Things came to a head Monday with Fitzgerald being fired, the same day another player accused the program of fostering a culture that allowed racism. Following the decision, Fitzgerald issued a lengthy statement. The last two paragraphs indicated he will likely file a lawsuit.
Pat Fitzgerald’s full statement after being fired Monday. Last two paragraphs key pic.twitter.com/KkFU2kRRBp
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) July 11, 2023
Fitzgerald said in the statement that he and Northwestern came to a “mutual agreement” that the school “unilaterally revoked.” The coach, who said he was not given advanced notice, wrote that he has hired legal counsel “to take the necessary steps to protect my rights in accordance with the law.”
Northwestern will likely argue that new information came to light, which is why the decision was made to terminate Fitzgerald.
Though Fitzgerald was fired and faced accusations, plenty of his current and former players, as well as former staff members, came to his defense and rallied around him.
One player even said that the whistleblower was out to personally get Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald starred at Northwestern as a linebacker from 1993-96 and then returned to the program as a position coach in 2001. He became their head coach in 2006 and went 110-101, including five bowl game wins. Fitzgerald led the program to two Big Ten West titles.