Northwestern fires Fitzgerald, but questions still remain
Former Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern fires Pat Fitzgerald, but questions still remain

Northwestern made the only decision it could on Monday when it fired Pat Fitzgerald, backtracking from its appallingly weak two-week suspension handed to Fitzgerald on Friday.

Unfortunately, the decision came too late and doesn't remove the stain of the initial punishment. 

It took graphic details in The Daily Northwestern and subsequent public outcry for officials to reconsider Fitzgerald's punishment and do what was appropriate.

When initially suspending Fitzgerald for two weeks — a ridiculous punishment for a coach during the offseason — the university said it had no evidence coaches knew about the hazing.

The anonymous player interviewed by The Daily called that into question and ESPN's Adam Rittenberg corroborated the report by saying ESPN received pictures "a screenshot of a whiteboard" in the team's locker room relaying some of the same information found in The Daily's bombshell article. 

It made little sense that Fitzgerald wouldn't know what was going on and even less for Northwestern to believe he was ignorant as to what was happening yet still find him capable of leading the football program.

Either he knowingly allowed the conduct to occur or had no control over the locker room. Neither is a good look.

Northwestern tacking on the bit about Fitzgerald being responsible for a "culture enabling racism" is also strange considering there was no mention of racism in the executive summary of the university's hazing investigation.

Since the first punishment was leveed, three players came forward and spoke with The Daily about their experiences with racism as non-white players on the team.

Was the school's first investigation done so poorly it didn't unearth the racist culture within the program? Or was it just not taken seriously until it became public knowledge? Again, neither option is great.

Both point to deeper institutional problems at Northwestern than just Fitzgerald. He needed to be fired but for those thinking that's the end of the Wildcats problem, well, that's exactly what Northwestern would want us to think.

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