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Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald suspended for two weeks after conclusion of hazing probe within football program

Northwestern will no longer train at Camp Kenosha in UW-Parkside

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NCAA Football: Illinois at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

This morning longtime ESPN College Football reporter Adam Rittenberg reported that Pat Fitzgerald has been suspended without pay for two weeks as a result of a hazing probe in to the Northwestern football probe that began in January.

UPDATE: A press release is also on Northwestern’s website

Northwestern has had fall camp at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, located in Kenosha County, since former coach Gary Barnett arrived in the early 90s. This is a major change for the football program.

Good lord.

I’ve been a NU football fan and season ticket holder for 20+ years. My impression is that Pat Fitzgerald has ran a tight ship and doesn’t tolerate any misconduct from his players. This is quite sad to see.

As if Fitz doesn’t have enough problems with his program, with a handful of wins the past two years.

I expect better than this from the football program. I want the players to play hard, win games, graduate at a stellar rate, and represent the institution well. Then again, these are college students, and sometimes college students do stupid shit.

MNW: The hope is (1) that the players affected are OK and don’t have any serious and lasting issues as a result of others’ actions, then (2) that the claims of coaches not knowing about the event are true. It’s a reminder, though, that despite whatever academic standards Northwestern has or whatever high horse we’re on as we roll down the hill of mediocrity to 1-11, that this is still a college football program: shitty aspects of masculinity and #culture abound, and that’s inexcusable. But especially when it comes to hazing, we’re not special.

A more-hopeful interpretation here, if you want one, would be that it was the pressuring of teammates, rather than the activities themselves, that got Northwestern into this mess. That’s a charitable reading of this passage from the USA Today story:

According to the complaint, football players would pressure teammates into participating in hazing activities. The university said details of the investigation will remain confidential.

Important, if you care about litigating this—which, though I haven’t held Northwestern season tickets for five years now, I can’t say I do—the investigation didn’t find any wrongdoing by any one specific person. I have no idea how that happens, but there you go.

It’s worth noting, as well, that in 2006 Northwestern’s women’s soccer coach resigned over credible and documented allegations of hazing, including “pictures of Northwestern soccer players clad only in T-shirts and underwear” and apparent alcohol abuse. Nothing like that appears to exist, though, in this situation.

More importantly than any of that or whether Northwestern goes up to Camp Kenosha to cosplay a weird hybrid of Navy Seal training and NFL minicamp, the athletics department—under new AD Dr. Derrick Gragg—is setting in place safeguards against under-reporting in the future:

The school will also add an independent monitor to the locker room who does not report to the football staff and create an online reporting tool for student-athletes to report allegations of hazing or misconduct.

But beyond that? Northwestern’s a private institution. Unless some Daily Northwestern or InsideNU reporter has a hot scoop they’re working on, I doubt we’ll get the full results of this or any closure. Fitz takes a couple weeks “off” to chew tape in his basement instead of taking a vacation, like a normal person would do, and we’ll all move on to a very exciting 3-9 season. Thanks, everyone!