Northwestern Fires Pat Fitzgerald, Soccer Coach, Amid Hazing Allegations

Northwestern College on Monday fired Pat Fitzgerald, its longtime head soccer coach, after an investigation discovered that his gamers had participated in widespread hazing, together with compelled nudity and sexualized acts.

His firing got here three days after the college stated that Fitzgerald, who had been head coach of the Wildcats since 2006, can be suspended for 2 weeks with out pay after the investigation discovered the hazing allegations to be credible.

Michael Schill, the president of Northwestern, stated in a press release that the choice to fireside Fitzgerald, 48, got here “after a tough and complicated analysis” of his earlier self-discipline and after discussions with the board of trustees, college students, alumni and Fitzgerald.

“The choice to initially droop Coach Fitzgerald was mine and mine alone, as is the choice to half methods with him,” Schill stated.

The announcement of the firing got here after The Every day Northwestern reported on Saturday {that a} participant, who requested anonymity from the paper, accused gamers of punishing primarily freshmen in a sexual act that concerned roughly 10 teammates restraining a youthful participant. On Monday, The Every day Northwestern additionally reported that three former soccer gamers stated there was a racist tradition within the soccer program.

Fitzgerald, a Northwestern alumnus who performed linebacker as an undergraduate, couldn’t be instantly reached for remark, and his lawyer didn’t instantly reply to a name or e-mail searching for remark late Monday evening. However Fitzgerald informed ESPN in a press release that he was “stunned” to be taught that Schill had revoked their “mutual settlement” on the two-week suspension “with none prior notification and subsequently terminated my employment.”

He added that his agent and lawyer would “take the mandatory steps to guard my rights in accordance with the legislation.”

The college’s investigation, carried out by Maggie Hickey of the legislation agency ArentFox Schiff, was prompted by an nameless grievance from a student-athlete in November 2022 and spanned six months. The investigation didn’t discover proof that Fitzgerald knew concerning the hazing — although it was “well-known by many in this system,” Schill stated.

Some gamers “believed the hazing was in jest and never dangerous,” however others stated it prompted “important hurt with long-term penalties,” based on the legislation agency’s investigation.

Schill stated that, to his information, “no pupil suffered bodily damage on account of these behaviors.”

Nonetheless, he stated, the pinnacle coach was chargeable for the group tradition, and the investigation discovered that hazing was “widespread and clearly not a secret throughout the program, offering Coach Fitzgerald with the chance to be taught what was taking place.”

Fitzgerald had been a pillar of the college’s soccer program, from his enjoying days as a linebacker when he helped the group attain the Rose Bowl, to his rise by means of the teaching ranks, ultimately being named the 2018 Massive Ten Coach of the 12 months. He received 5 bowl video games and had a 110-101 report as head coach of the group. Final season, Northwestern went 1-11.