Northwestern retains assistants after firing coach Pat Fitzgerald following hazing allegations


EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Northwestern has decided to retain its assistant coaches and support staff for the 2023 season after it fired head coach Pat Fitzgerald amid a hazing scandal.

Athletic director Derrick Gragg informed the coaches and staff of the decision during a meeting on Tuesday. There was no announcement by the school when it comes to the leadership of the program after Fitzgerald’s dismissal.

The first game of the season is Sept. 3 at Rutgers.

The 48-year-old Fitzgerald was fired on Monday by Northwestern President Michael Schill, who wrote in an open letter to the university community that an investigation by an outside law firm detailed hazing that “was widespread and clearly not a secret within the program.”

“The culture in Northwestern Football, while incredible in some ways, was broken in others,” Schill wrote.

Fitzgerald was originally suspended for two weeks after the school said Friday that an investigation led by attorney Maggie Hickey of law firm ArentFox Schiff did not find “sufficient” evidence that the coaching staff knew about ongoing hazing — though there were “significant opportunities” to find out about it.

Fitzgerald pointed to Hickey’s investigation as confirmation that he had no knowledge of any hazing within the program. He said in a statement that he had instructed his attorney to “take the necessary steps to protect my rights in accordance with the law.”

Fitzgerald was an All-American linebacker on the 1995 Northwestern team that won the Big Ten and played in the Rose Bowl after years of losing.

He went 110-101 in 17 seasons as the head coach at his alma mater. He led the Wildcats to Big Ten West championships in 2018 and 2020, plus five bowl victories. But they went 4-20 over his last two seasons.

The turmoil within the football program comes after the school unveiled plans in September to build a new Ryan Field. The plans call for a state-of-the-art facility featuring a reduced seating capacity and greater emphasis on the fan experience.

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