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Ex-Northwestern soccer coach Pat Fitzgerald sues college for wrongful termination as a consequence of hazing scandal

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Former Northwestern head soccer coach Pat Fitzgerald filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in opposition to the college and its president, Michael Schill, Thursday. 

Fitzgerald is looking for greater than $130 million for reputational and punitive damages and misplaced earnings from his firing after a two-week suspension following a hazing investigation into his program. The quantity contains the $68 million that was nonetheless on his contract and $62 million in future earnings losses. Fitzgerald alleges Northwestern unlawfully fired him for trigger July 10. 

Northwestern commissioned lawyer Maggie Hickey to guide an investigation into hazing claims from a former participant. 

Hickey discovered the claims have been corroborated, although there was inadequate proof that Fitzgerald, alongside along with his teaching workers, had data of the incidents. 

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Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald throughout a sport in opposition to the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. (Jeffrey Becker/USA In the present day Sports activities)

“The truth that he was terminated primarily based on no rational causes or details by any means, the truth that they’ve gone out and destroyed his fame as the most effective soccer coaches in America, primarily based on no reputable motive or proof, is disgraceful,” mentioned Dan Webb, a former U.S. lawyer for the Northern District of Illinois and Fitzgerald’s lawyer within the lawsuit, per ESPN. 

“It is despicable conduct on behalf of Northwestern. My consumer and his household are entitled to their day in court docket for justice.”

Webb added that Fitzgerald and Northwestern reached an “oral settlement” he would face no additional self-discipline past his two-week suspension from the college. 

A number of former Northwestern gamers filed lawsuits in opposition to the college, alleging they have been victims of hazing, and a few named Fitzgerald and Schill as defendants.  

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Webb carried out his personal interviews with former Northwestern gamers and coaches, and he discovered no “important hazing occurred” inside Fitzgerald’s program. He did observe, nevertheless, that new proof might come out throughout a trial. Webb by no means obtained Hickey’s report from the college’s investigation.  

Webb wasn’t allowed to speak to present Northwestern gamers or coaches as a consequence of him suing the college. Nonetheless, he does count on to name them as witnesses at trial, per ESPN. 

Pat Fitzgerald in 2021

Pat Fitzgerald, head coach of the Northwestern Wildcats, speaks throughout Massive Ten Soccer media days at Lucas Oil Stadium July 22, 2021, in Indianapolis. (Michael Hickey/Getty Pictures)

“They’re going to say they didn’t see any important hazing apart from horseplay between younger males within the locker room,” Webb mentioned primarily based on interviews he’s had with the previous coaches and gamers. 

The whistleblower who got here ahead in November 2022 sparking the hazing investigation into Northwestern’s program “had a grudge in opposition to” Fitzgerald, Webb says. ESPN discovered in July a participant on the crew was informed by the whistleblower that he had a “detailed plan” with the target of taking down Fitzgerald. 

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Northwestern responded to the lawsuit from Fitzgerald, referring to the Hickey Report during which gamers admitted to investigators that hazing occurred, which included “compelled participation, nudity and sexualized acts of a degrading nature.” The college additionally pointed to the a number of lawsuits that stay open in opposition to Northwestern, Fitzgerald and Schill, with greater than a dozen former soccer gamers included. 

Fitzgerald’s lawsuit additionally claims no gamers or coaches ever got here to him with hazing allegations. So, when informed in regards to the college claiming Fitzgerald ought to have recognized what was occurring, Webb mentioned, “That’s a ridiculous allegation not supported by any proof by any means.” 

Schill addressed the Northwestern neighborhood in a letter when he fired Fitzgerald.  

Pat Fitzgerald vs Purdue

Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald walks the sidelines through the second quarter in opposition to the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium. (Marc Lebryk/USA In the present day Sports activities)

“The choice comes after a troublesome and complicated analysis of my unique self-discipline determination imposed final week on Coach Fitzgerald for his failure to know and forestall important hazing within the soccer program,” Schill’s letter on the time of Fitzgerald’s firing mentioned. 

“During the last 72 hours, I’ve spent quite a lot of time in thought and in discussions with individuals who love our College — the Chair and members of our Board of Trustees, college management, college students, alumni and Coach Fitzgerald himself.”

Fitzgerald has since taken a task as a mother or father volunteer for the Loyola Academy soccer crew, which was first reported by Document North Shore. The highschool outdoors Chicago is the place two of Fitzgerald’s sons are enrolled. 

Fitzgerald was required to bear a background examine and signal a compulsory code of conduct to volunteer. 

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He was the winningest head coach within the college’s historical past with an total file of 110-101 over 17 seasons with the Wildcats. Fitzgerald was additionally a legendary participant with this system, incomes nationwide defensive participant of the yr honors twice in a Wildcats uniform. 

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