Northwestern University Terminates Coach Pat Fitzgerald Following Hazing Scandal

by Andrew Wright
Northwestern Hazing Scandal Lawsuit

Northwestern University made the decision to terminate coach Pat Fitzgerald on Monday in light of a hazing scandal that raised concerns about his leadership within the program and tarnished the university’s reputation due to mishandling the allegations.

The dismissal of Fitzgerald marks a significant downfall for the former Northwestern linebacker. At 48 years old, Fitzgerald had enjoyed a secure position as the coach at his alma mater and was considered a staple on any list of college coaches with the highest job security.

In an open letter addressed to the university community, Northwestern President Michael Schill emphasized that the head coach ultimately bears responsibility for the team’s culture. Schill stated, “The hazing we investigated was widespread and clearly not a secret within the program, providing Coach Fitzgerald with the opportunity to learn what was happening. Either way, the culture in Northwestern Football, while incredible in some ways, was broken in others.”

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During his 17 seasons as Northwestern’s head coach, Fitzgerald achieved a record of 110-101. He guided the Wildcats to Big Ten West championships in 2018 and 2020, along with five bowl victories. However, the team’s performance declined significantly in the last two seasons, with a record of 4-20.

Schill mentioned in his letter that athletic director Derrick Gragg would announce the leadership for the upcoming football season within the next few days. The first game is scheduled for September 3 against Rutgers.

“I recognize that my decision will not be universally applauded, and there will be those in our community who may vehemently disagree with it,” Schill acknowledged. “Ultimately, I am charged with acting in the best interests of the entire University, and this decision is reflective of that. The damage done to our institution is significant, as is the harm to some of our students.”

Fitzgerald had been serving a two-week suspension since Friday after a law firm investigation failed to find “sufficient” evidence that the coaching staff was aware of ongoing hazing, although there were notable opportunities to discover it.

On Saturday, The Daily Northwestern published an article detailing allegations from a former player, including specific instances of hazing and sexual abuse. The report also suggested that Fitzgerald “may have known that hazing took place.”

Following this revelation, Schill released an open letter expressing regret for focusing too much on what the report concluded regarding Fitzgerald’s lack of knowledge rather than what he should have known. Schill stated his intention to consult with university leadership, the board of trustees, and faculty senate leaders to determine the appropriate course of action.

Schill previously served as the president of the University of Oregon before assuming the role at Northwestern in September. Additionally, he is involved in teaching at Northwestern’s law school.

AP college football: https://bigbignews.net/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about hazing scandal

What led to Pat Fitzgerald’s termination as Northwestern coach?

Pat Fitzgerald’s termination as Northwestern coach was the result of a hazing scandal. The university conducted an investigation and found widespread hazing within the program. The university concluded that Coach Fitzgerald had opportunities to learn about the hazing, leading to a broken culture within Northwestern Football.

How long was Pat Fitzgerald the head coach at Northwestern?

Pat Fitzgerald served as the head coach at Northwestern for 17 seasons.

What were Pat Fitzgerald’s achievements as Northwestern coach?

During his tenure, Pat Fitzgerald led the Wildcats to Big Ten West championships in 2018 and 2020. He also secured five bowl victories.

Did Pat Fitzgerald have job security before the hazing scandal?

Yes, Pat Fitzgerald was considered to have high job security and was seen as a fixture on lists of college coaches with the most job security.

What will happen to the Northwestern football program after Pat Fitzgerald’s termination?

The university’s athletic director, Derrick Gragg, will announce the leadership for the upcoming football season in the following days. The first game is scheduled for September 3 against Rutgers.

What actions did Northwestern President Michael Schill take regarding the hazing scandal?

President Michael Schill acknowledged the hazing scandal’s significant impact on the university and its students. He emphasized his responsibility to act in the best interests of the entire university and made the decision to terminate Coach Fitzgerald. He also mentioned plans to consult with university leadership and other relevant parties to determine the next steps.

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GoCatsGo July 11, 2023 - 1:53 am

Fitz had such a long run at Northwestern. 17 seasons! He brought us championships and bowl wins. But the last two years were tough. Time for a fresh start. #NewEra

WildcatsForever July 11, 2023 - 4:00 am

omg! i can’t believe they fired Pat Fitzgerald! he was the best coach we had! but I guess the hazing thing was serious. #NorthwesternFootball

SportsEnthusiast July 11, 2023 - 8:38 pm

so Northwestern president says Fitzgerald is responsible for the team’s culture. True dat! hazing was all over. Fitz should’ve known! #CultureMatters


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