Northwestern football head coach Pat Fitzgerald has been suspended for two weeks without pay on the tail of an investigation into whistleblower allegations of hazing in the program.
Fitzgerald, who has been coach of the Wildcats since 2006, will be sidelined until early in August but will begin his two weeks unpaid starting this Friday, according to ESPN.
The school also implemented other measures, including a ban on practices at the team’s Kenosha, Wisconsin, preseason training camp and installing a locker room monitor who does not answer to the Wildcats’ coaching staff.
When the allegations were first brought forward, Fitzgerald claimed he was “disappointed” in the players who allegedly engaged in such behavior and added, “We hold our student-athletes and our program to the highest standards; we will continue to work to exceed those standards moving forward.”
The investigation, which began in Dec. of last year, was led by Maggie Hickey of ArentFox Schiff, a former inspector general of Illinois, according to WGN9. At least one hazing allegation was deemed credible even though players’ stories conflicted. In her report, Schiff said that “largely supported by the evidence,” and the allegation appeared to have happened at the team’s preseason training facility, dubbed “Camp Kenosha,” in 2020.
“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,” the summary reads.
“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,” University President Michael Schill said in a statement. “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.”
The school has also launched an Internet-based tool for students to report hazing and harassment and requires all coaches and staffers to take anti-hazing training.