Northwestern Retains Assistants After Firing Coach Pat Fitzgerald Following Hazing Allegations

EVANSTON (Ill.) (AP). Northwestern has decided to keep its assistant coaches and staff for the season 2023 after firing head coach Pat Fitzgerald over a hazing controversy.

Derrick Gragg, athletic director of the school, informed the coaches and the staff about the decision at a Tuesday meeting. The school has not made any announcements regarding the future of the program following Fitzgerald's dismissal.

The first match of the season will be played on Sept. 3, at Rutgers.

Fitzgerald, 48, was dismissed by Northwestern University President Michael Schill on Monday. Schill wrote in an open message to the university's community that an independent law firm's investigation revealed hazing which 'was widespread' and 'clearly not a secret' within the program.

Schill wrote that "the culture of Northwestern Football was incredible in some aspects, but broken in others."

The school initially suspended Fitzgerald for two weeks, after an investigation by Maggie Hickey from the law firm ArentFox Schiff found that there was not'sufficient evidence' that the coaching staff were aware of ongoing hazing. However, the school also said that there had been'significant' opportunities to learn about it.

Fitzgerald cited Hickey’s investigation to confirm that he was unaware of any hazing in the program. In a statement to ESPN, he said that he'd instructed his lawyer to 'take all the necessary steps in order to protect my legal rights.'

Fitzgerald, an All-American Linebacker for the 1995 Northwestern team which won the Big Ten after many years of losing and played in Rose Bowl, was a linebacker who has been playing since the Rose Bowl.

In 17 years as head coach, he was 110-101. He led his Wildcats teams to Big Ten West titles in 2018 and 2020 as well as five bowl wins. They went 4-20 in his last two years.

The school announced plans to build a brand new Ryan Field in September. The plans include a modern facility with a smaller seating capacity, and a greater focus on the fans' experience.