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NY Post
New York Post
8 Jul 2023

NextImg:Northwestern players allege hazing included ‘barbaric’ coerced sexual acts: report

The hazing conduct in Northwestern’s football program, which the school released investigative findings on Friday, involved coerced sexual acts, according to two anonymous players — one current, one former — who spoke to The Daily Northwestern, the school’s student newspaper.

The current player claimed coach Pat Fitzgerald, who was suspended without pay for two weeks, might have been aware of the hazing.

The former player told the outlet that he reported the conduct, which included a practice called “running,” to the university in late November 2022.

“Running” involved being restrained by a group of 8-to-10 upperclassmen dressed in masks who would then dry-hump the victim in a dark locker room.

“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 told The Daily Northwestern.

“It’s just a really abrasive and barbaric culture that has permeated throughout that program for years on end now.”

Two Northwestern players — one current and one former — revealed some of the alleged details of the hazing.
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Players allegedly identified victims by clapping their hands above their heads around that player.

One of the players who spoke to The Daily Northwestern said Fitzgerald made the same signal during practice when players, especially freshmen, made a mistake — which some interpreted as encouraging hazing.

“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 said. “Everyone joins in because he’s the head coach.”

ArentFox Schiff LLP, an independent law firm, was hired by Northwestern to investigate the alleged hazing.

In their findings, released on Friday, lead investigator Maggie Hickey said the whistleblower’s claims were “largely supported by evidence” and that participation in or knowledge of hazing was “widespread” among the team.

A university spokesman declined comment to The Daily Northwestern.

In addition to Fitzgerald’s suspension, the program is now required to have someone who does not report to the coaching staff monitor the locker room.

The team will also have to stop holding practices at Camp Kenosha, Wisc., where it has held training camp in the past.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald was suspended for two weeks.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald was suspended for two weeks.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Friday, Fitzgerald addressed the investigation into the program and his suspension.

“I was very disappointed when I heard about the allegations of hazing on our football teams,” Fitzgerald said. “We hold our student-athletes and our program to the highest standards; we will continue to work to exceed those standards moving forward.”

With the new revelations, however, there is a possibility that a two-week suspension will not be seen as enough for Fitzgerald.

A series of other hazing practices were also alleged, including freshmen being forced to strip naked and perform acts such as bear crawling. 

A player also told The Daily Northwestern about a tradition called “the carwash,” in which some players would stand naked at the entrance to the showers and spin around, forcing anyone entering to rub up against them.

The players called the alleged acts "inhumane."

The players called the alleged acts “inhumane.”
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Upon entering the showers, a hose was allegedly set up to spray people.

The player also alleged that he was forced to participate in a naked center-quarterback exchange and that, despite another player being vocally adamant about not wanting to participate, older players threatened to run him if he refused.

“I’ve seen it with my own eyes and it’s just absolutely egregious and vile and inhumane behavior,” one of the players who spoke to the student paper said.

Northwestern had a 1-11 record last season and is set to begin this season at Rutgers on Sept. 3.