Content warning: This article features information related to hazing, sexual assault, and suicide. These are alleged accusations from two players about their experience as former college football players for the Northwestern University team.
According to two former Northwestern University football players, there was hazing conducted during their time on the team that involved "coerced sexual acts." The former student-athletes told their story to The Daily Northwestern.
Another former player confirmed in a separate ESPN report that Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald "absolutely knew about" hazing in the program. Fitzgerald was suspended for two weeks unpaid after an investigation from an independent law firm.
The details involved in The Daily Northwestern report are disgusting. Here's a rundown of the allegations.
The Alleged Hazing Practices of Northwestern Football
Here are just a few of the disgusting practices mentioned in The Daily Northwestern's report.
- "Running": Freshmen would be chosen to be "ran." The former player described that those players chosen would be "restrained by a group of 8-10 upperclassmen dressed in various 'Purge-like' masks, who would then begin 'dry-humping' the victim in a dark locker room."
- Freshmen were "forced to strip naked and perform various acts, including bear crawling and slingshotting themselves across the floor with exercise bands."
- Once a year, according to the same player, there was a tradition known as "the carwash." Some players would stand naked at the entrance to the showers and spin around, forcing those entering the showers to "basically (rub) up against a bare-naked man" and that "upon entering the showers, the player alleged that players set up a hose they connected to the shower to spray people." "It's extremely painful," the player said.
- A naked freshman quarterback had to take a snap from a naked center, according to the former player. The player also states that someone was "very vocally adamant" about not participating, but if they didn't, they would be "ran," and he had "no other option."
- Both players also described "Gatorade shake challenges," which involved players, typically freshmen, forcibly drinking as many Gatorade shakes as possible in a 10-minute period. According to the two players, everyone who participated threw up.
Jon Yates, a spokesperson for Northwestern, declined to comment on specific details.
"Our first priority is to support and protect our students, including... all student-athletes who had the courage to come forward in this independent investigation. That is why the University immediately opened this investigation upon learning of the allegations and why we took decisive action once we ascertained the facts," Yates wrote in an email to The Daily Northwestern. "Out of respect for the privacy of our student-athletes, we will not comment about the findings beyond what we stated in the release and executive summary of the investigation."
Yates, the spokesperson for the University, also stated that all incoming freshman and undergraduate transfers, including student athletes must complete the Hazing 101 Prevention True Northwestern Dialogue and that each sports program has biannual meetings "to discuss hazing and its impact on the student experience."
However, the player said that upperclassmen would threaten freshmen, saying "if anyone snitched, then Shrek would get you," which referenced "running."
"I've had friends reach out to me in the middle of the night having very suicidal tendencies," he said.
The player that came forward said that the investigation led by lead investigator Maggie Hickey was "helpful," but that the sanctions against the program aren't good enough, calling them a "slap on the wrist." The player also said it was "extremely frustrating" that the details of the findings are confidential.
"My goal in reporting these details is to shed light on the harsh severity of this program and just absolutely inhumane traditions and activities that go on in our program," he said.
Meanwhile, a statement from the entire Northwestern team called the allegations "exaggerated and twisted" and denied Fitzgerald's involvement.
Statement from Northwestern?s entire team pushing back against the allegations of hazing, which they call ?exaggerated and twisted.? They also say coach Pat Fitzgerald had no knowledge or involvement in the allegations. pic.twitter.com/lMOAgCe0EB
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) July 9, 2023
We'll monitor this story as more reports unfold.
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