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Northwestern finds alleged hazing claims within football program credible after investigation

Alex Weberby:Alex Weber07/07/23

In January of this year, just after the conclusion of the 2022 football season, Northwestern launched an investigation into hazing allegations within the football program. Several months later, now July, the school has completed that investigation and found the claims to be credible. They provided an executive summary of their findings Friday morning and the punishments that will ensue.

Here were those findings, per the summary:

“Current and former players varied on their perspective of the conduct; however, the investigation team determined that the complainant’s claims were largely supported by the evidence gathered during the investigation, including separate and consistent first-person accounts from current and former players. While 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 explained that there’s no evidence the coaching staff knew what was going on, but stated that there was plenty of opportunity for them to find out about the hazing.

“The investigation team did not discover sufficient evidence to believe that coaching staff knew about the ongoing hazing conduct. They determined, however, that there had been significant opportunities to discover and report the hazing conduct.”

As a result of these findings, Northwestern is suspending head coach Pat Fitzgerald immediately, among other restrictions.

“Head coach Fitzgerald has been placed on a two-week suspension without pay, beginning immediately,” read the summary. It also noted that “Football practices at ‘Camp Kenosha’ in Wisconsin will be permanently discontinued.”

More on hazing investigation

For this investigation, Northwestern hired an outside investigator named Maggie Hickey, who was described as “a partner and practice co-leader of both complex litigation and government enforcement and white collar practice at ArentFox Schiff LLP, as well as a former executive assistant U.S. attorney and inspector general of Illinois.”

Per Northwestern, here were the details on how the investigation went down:

“To conduct this investigation, the investigation team received complete cooperation from Northwestern University, including the University’s athletics personnel. They interviewed more than 50 people affiliated or formerly affiliated with the football program and reviewed, among other things, hundreds of thousands of emails and player survey data dating back to 2014.

“Throughout the investigation, the University took steps to eliminate hazing from the football program, including addressing the football team and staff and making changes to locker-room oversight. In response to recommendations from Hickey, Northwestern is making a series of additional changes to improve the culture of the football program and to create additional controls to prevent hazing across Northwestern Athletics.”

Those changes included the suspension of Fitzgerald as well as the permanent end to practices at “Camp Kenosha.” There were other measures taken too, which you can read as part of the executive summary.