Acclaimed Hazing Attorney Michael Levine recently appeared on Legal Face-Off, a legal commentary show on WGN Radio 720, to shed light on the escalating Northwestern hazing scandal. The segment, which took place from 13:01 to 22:05, featured Levine’s expert commentary on this unfolding controversy, drawing from his wealth of experience in hazing cases. Follow the link above to tune into his interview or watch it below.
Escalating Scandal Plunges Northwestern Athletic Program into Turmoil
Northwestern University is currently grappling with a growing number of lawsuits against the university alleging hazing. This has led to at least two firings. The men’s baseball coach has been dismissed in a related scandal, and former football head coach Pat Fitzgerald, now represented by a defense lawyer, has also been ousted. Furthermore, a lawsuit has been filed by a women’s volleyball player citing mistreatment.
“Things are going from bad to worse for Northwestern. Now you’ve got an issue that is engulfing the entire program,” Michael said on the show. “You got to think, people at Northwestern are wondering if they had come out from the jump and just fired the coach, would they be in this situation?”
The Unspoken Hurdle: Fear of Speaking Out
When questioned about why more players don’t step forward, Michael highlighted a concerning trend:
“This is something that we’ve seen in the fraternity hazing cases that I’ve handled as well, and it’s amplified in the athletic setting because these players want to play. Some of the players are on scholarship, this is their ticket to getting their education. Other players may have professional aspirations…I’ve spoken with the family of one of the current players, and they don’t want to come forward because the kid just wants to play football.”
He added, “That’s really why I’ve only seen some former players step forward. We’ve yet to see a current player step into that limelight for all the reasons we know.”
Close Proximity to Coaches Raises Questions
Michael brought up the proximity of the hazing abuse to the coaching staff, which has been cited by former players, but denied by the staff. He highlighted how the coaches are a significant part of the athletic program, representing a nine-figure investment on the university’s part. Students are also a major part of that investment; consequently, these coaches usually know everything that goes on in the program, including when a student skips class or a workout. Presumably, according to Levine, they know what’s happening in their own locker room.
Future Implications & Damages
Northwestern’s future considerations, such as the planned construction of a new stadium, could impact how they approach resolving these cases. However, Levine emphasizes that the liability, which Northwestern has already conceded, and the number of athletes involved, may drive this case toward a settlement. As Levine explained during the interview, Northwestern wants to garner attention for its academics—not its culture of hazing.
As this scandal continues to unfold, our firm is committed to providing the most insightful and timely commentary. Stay tuned for more updates on this critical issue.