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breaking news: northwestern fires pat fitzgerald

Updated: Nov 3, 2023




Northwestern has fired head football coach Pat Fitzgerald amid allegations of hazing and racism throughout the program. An investigation by the university discovered that coach Pat Fitzgerald knew about the hazing and allegedly did nothing to stop them.


Initially, Northwestern suspended Fitzgerald without pay for two weeks after the hazing incidents became public. But more players have come forward confirming the hazing incidents, as well as describing an atmosphere of racism.


The investigation started when a former player reported his experiences to the university in November of 2022. Much of the hazing was stated to have been coerced sexual acts.


An anonymous player told The Daily Northwestern, the school’s newspaper, that the primary form of hazing was called “running.” Running was an act in which the targeted player would be restrained by several upperclassmen. Then, they would begin “dry humping” him in a dark room.


"Fitz absolutely knew about hazing in this program," the former player told ESPN. "Fitz absolutely failed by not intervening. Fitz knew, and he should have made it stop; and if he truly did not know, he should not be the head coach. Either way, he should not be the head coach, because he is not monitoring and protecting the safety and well-being of student-athletes."


In addition to the hazing allegations, three former players have alleged racism in the program. Ramon Diaz, Jr., who is Latino, was an offensive lineman at Northwestern from 2005-2008 and was the first to come out with allegations of racism in the Wildcats program.


Also speaking to The Daily Northwestern, Diaz said, “I didn’t feel like I could be anything other than white. We never felt like we could be ourselves. We had to fit in by being white or acting white or laughing at our own people.”


Diaz also alleged that he had to have Cinco de Mayo shaved into his head for a freshman tradition. Following graduation, he has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of the hazing and racism.


Diaz currently works as a clinical therapist, but still requires therapy due to the PTSD he suffered while at Northwestern.


Two more former Northwestern players, who remained anonymous, stated that black players were allegedly urged to cut their hair, calling it the “Wildcat Way."


One of the anonymous players went on to say, “There was a certain culture of enabling racism and other microaggressions that I had to experience and that other offensive linemen that were people of color had to experience.”


Another phrase allegedly used by Fitzgerald, “good, clean American fun”, was allegedly used by coaches to reference how they wanted players to look. “If you were not in line with the Wildcat Way, Coach Fitz or any one of the coaches will be quick to say like, ‘yeah, check your scholarship.”


Many current and former players have come to Fitzgerald’s defense, stating he is one of the best people they know. But the allegations of hazing and racism proved too much for Coach Fitz to keep his job.


College Football Dawgs reached out to the Northwestern athletic department for comment. However, our calls went unanswered. The University did release a statement on behalf of University President Michael Schill that reads:


“Over the last 72 hours, I have spent a great deal of time in thought and in discussions with people who love our University — the Chair and members of our Board of Trustees, faculty leadership, students, alumni and Coach Fitzgerald himself,” Schill said. “I have also received many phone calls, text messages and emails from those I know, and those I don’t, sharing their thoughts. While I am appreciative of the feedback and considered it in my decision-making, ultimately, the decision to originally suspend Coach Fitzgerald was mine and mine alone, as is the decision to part ways with him.”

Fitzgerald leaves Northwestern after 18 seasons with a 110-101 record. He was revered at Northwestern, having been a player from 1993-1996, Defensive Backs coach in 2001, Linebackers coach from 2002-2006, and then the head coach from 2006-2022.

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