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Investigative Report Uncovers Hazing Within Northwestern University’s Football Program


In an explosive revelation, an investigation led by former Illinois Inspector General Maggie Hickey has confirmed allegations of hazing within the Northwestern University football program. These findings have sent shockwaves throughout the university and the college sports world.

A Shocking Revelation

A former player turned whistleblower alerted the school in late 2022 to sexualized hazing practices that targeted individual freshmen players. One disturbing ritual, referred to as “running,” involved a younger player being restrained by others while 8–10 older players subjected him to an act of a sexual nature.

The whistleblower told The Daily Northwestern, “It’s a shocking experience as a freshman to see your fellow freshman get ran, but then you see everybody bystanding in the locker room. It’s just a really abrasive and barbaric culture that has permeated throughout the program for years on end now.”

The whistleblower stated these acts were not isolated incidents but a routine practice, especially around holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

In response to these claims, the university commissioned an independent investigation led by Hickey. The exhaustive process involved interviewing 50 people and combing hundreds of thousands of emails and player data. Released on July 7, 2023, the report substantiated the whistleblower’s allegations, confirming that the brutal practices were part of the team’s culture.

The Northwestern University Football Team’s Response

The Northwestern football team released a letter, signed by the entire team, denying the extent of the allegations. The letter described the claims as “exaggerated and twisted” and asserted that “Northwestern football players do not tolerate hazing.”

Meanwhile, under President Michael Schill, the university’s administration is considering harsher punishment for Pat Fitzgerald, the head coach of the football team, in light of these disturbing findings. Fitzgerald was suspended for two weeks without pay after the report was released, but as allegations continue to come out, the school could be forced to take more drastic action.

Michael Levine’s Expert Opinion

Attorney Michael Levine offered his perspective on the case to WGN News in Chicago, ABC 7 in Chicago, ESPN SportsCenter, and NBC in Chicago. He stated, “I think there’s absolutely going to be further penalties…what the university is trying to do in response to this—it’s really just way too little, too late. Shockingly small slap on the wrist in light of what the allegations are.”

Levine also emphasized the responsibilities of the officials involved, asserting that “The coaching staff, the other football staff, and others in the athletic department—if they were doing their job, they would have known about this.”

As Levine points out, hazing is not only a violation of university policy but also Illinois state law. “Clearly, the players involved violated university policy and perhaps Illinois’ hazing law. Illinois law makes hazing a misdemeanor, and if the hazing results in death or great bodily harm, it is a felony.”

This scandal highlights the need for a cultural shift within sports teams to prevent hazing. It calls for more robust oversight, accountability measures, and stringent anti-hazing policies to ensure student-athlete safety.

As this case unfolds, it sends a clear message to educational institutions and sports programs nationwide: hazing in any form must not be tolerated.