Coach Pat Fitzgerald Fired Amid Hazing Scandal: Northwestern Football Shocker

Northwestern University has made the shocking decision to fire football coach Pat Fitzgerald following allegations of hazing within the program. The university initially suspended Fitzgerald for two weeks, but the situation escalated after The Daily Northwestern published an article that detailed specific instances of hazing and sexual abuse. The report suggested that Fitzgerald may have been aware of the hazing activities taking place.

Northwestern President Michael Schill acknowledged that the head coach is responsible for the team’s culture. He described the hazing as widespread and not a secret within the program, indicating that Fitzgerald had the opportunity to become aware of the situation. The nature of the hazing included forced participation, nudity, and degrading acts of a sexualized character.

Fitzgerald had a successful career as a linebacker at Northwestern and had been the head coach for 17 seasons since 2006, accumulating a record of 110-101. He led the Wildcats to notable achievements, including Big Ten West championships and bowl victories.

But it was rampant hazing allegations that ultimately cost him his job. Despite little chance of retaining his role, Fitzgerald doesn’t appear he will be going down without a fight.
Fitzgerald said in a statement to ESPN, said he was “surprised when I learned that the president of Northwestern unilaterally revoked our agreement without any prior notification and subsequently terminated my employment.”

President Schill acknowledged Fitzgerald’s significant impact on the university beyond football, having been associated with Northwestern for nearly 30 years and positively influencing the lives of numerous young men. He also acknowledged that his decision would not be universally applauded, but he believed it was in the best interest of the entire university. Schill emphasized the significance of the damage caused to the institution and the harm experienced by some of the students.

Vice President for Athletics & Recreation Derrick Gragg will announce the leadership plans for the upcoming football season in the coming days. It is expected that defensive coordinator David Braun will assume an interim role. Northwestern’s preseason practices are scheduled to begin in early August, with the season opener against Rutgers on September 3.

The firing of Fitzgerald marks the end of his tenure as one of the longest-tenured active coaches in FBS football. The decision reflects the university’s commitment to addressing the hazing allegations and prioritizing the well-being of its students. The search for a new coach will undoubtedly be a critical task for Northwestern as they navigate this challenging period and seek to rebuild the program’s reputation.

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