Former Northwestern player details 'inhumane' hazing allegations following Pat Fitzgerald's suspension
A report from The Daily Northwestern includes details of alleged hazing within the Northwestern football program, and head coach Pat Fitzgerald was suspended for two weeks by the school Friday.
A former player told the outlet the incidents included acts of sexual misconduct, among other "absolutely egregious and vile and inhumane behavior."
He said players, mostly freshman, would be "dry-[humped]" by several upperclassmen who were dressed in "Purge-like" masks in a practice called "running." A player would be "ran" usually if he made mistakes at practice.
The player said if other team members clapped their hands above their heads near a player, that meant he had to be "ran." Fitzgerald denies knowing about the allegations, but the player says Fitzgerald made the signal during practices, encouraging the hazing to go on.
"It’s a shocking experience as a freshman to see your fellow freshman teammates get ran, but then you see everybody bystanding in the locker room," the player said. "It’s just a really abrasive and barbaric culture that has permeated throughout that program for years on end now.
"Everyone would just be looking at each other and be like, ‘Bro, Fitz knows about this,’ because you wouldn’t take that action otherwise," the player added. "Everyone joins in because he’s the head coach.
"It’s done under this smoke and mirror of ‘Oh, this is team bonding.' But, no, this is sexual abuse."
The player also said team members were forced to strip naked and perform various acts, including bear-crawling and slingshotting themselves across the floor with exercise bands. A freshman quarterback also had to take a snap from a freshman center while both were naked.
Another alleged incident included the "Gatorade shake challenge," where players would have to drink as many Gatorade shakes as possible in 10 minutes. The player said he's "never seen anyone not throw up" as a result.
Fitzgerald said he was "very disappointed" when he heard about the allegations.
"Northwestern football prides itself on producing not just athletes, but fine young men with character befitting the program and our university," he said. "We hold our student-athletes and our program to the highest standards; we will continue to work to exceed those standards moving forward."
"Northwestern Athletics prides itself on providing a world-class student-athlete experience, which includes a safe and respectful environment for all of our students, coaches and staff," athletic director Derrick Gragg said. "We respect the courage of the individuals who came forward to make us aware of the issue, and we vow to do our part to create a more positive environment moving forward."
The school said it will require annual anti-hazing training for coaches, staff members and athletes with an emphasis on reporting options and the responsibility to report as well as discipline.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.