Northwestern Fires Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald Amid Hazing Scandal

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Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald was fired on Monday after several former players revealed details of hazing within the football program, and days after an independent investigation confirmed hazing activities “widespread among football players.”

Allegedly, eleven current or former players told investigators that hazing had been ongoing, whereas more former players confirmed hazing “was systemic dating back many years”  and that nudity, forced participation, and “sexualized acts of a degrading nature” were part of the hazing. The details of how younger players were subjected to abusive hazing, reported by the university’s student paper, The Daily Northwestern, are disturbing, including the practice of “running”, in which first-year players who had made mistakes in practice would be subjected to “8-10 upperclassmen dressed in various ‘Purge-like’ masks, who would then begin ‘dry-humping’ the victim in a dark locker room”. In another hazing practice, “freshmen were forced to strip naked and perform various acts, including bear crawling and slingshotting themselves across the floor with exercise bands.”

However, the real story that emerges from Northwestern is not confined to Northwestern at all: it is that hazing remains a significant part of college football culture. In 2016, the NCAA revealed that 74% of “student-athletes” reported having experienced hazing.

Unfortunately, there may not be any way to fix the issue when it’s so deeply ingrained into football culture. Similar to hazing in fraternities, anyone that comes forward and speaks up usually has the industry and peers turn against them.

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