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Former soccer coach Pat Fitzgerald is suing Northwestern for $130 million for wrongful termination over hazing scandal | CNN

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CNN
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Former Northwestern College soccer coach Pat Fitzgerald is suing the college and its president for at the least $130 million for wrongful termination, amongst different claims, after he was fired in July after allegations of hazing throughout the Wildcats soccer program.

“We’re claiming numerous prices towards Northwestern and (College President Michael) Schill, together with breaches of contract of two completely different contracts, intentional infliction of emotional misery, defamation, and claims for punitive damages to punish Northwestern and President Schill for the injustices that they’ve imposed and inflicted on Mr. Fitzgerald and his household due to the occasions which can be set forth within the lawsuit,” Fitzgerald’s legal professional, Dan Webb, stated in a information convention Thursday.

Webb stated they’ll search “out-of-pocket financial damages” of roughly $130 million.

Fitzgerald’s firing adopted an impartial investigation into the hazing allegations by a former Illinois inspector basic. The inquiry started in December after an nameless e mail deal with despatched a grievance on the finish of the 2022 season, in response to an govt abstract of the investigation made public by Northwestern.

The investigation revealed 11 gamers, previous and current, stated hazing was ongoing in this system, Schill stated in a July letter to the Northwestern neighborhood.

However, Schill added within the letter, the investigator didn’t discover “any credible proof that Coach Fitzgerald himself knew about it,” and Fitzgerald has denied any data of hazing in this system.

Fitzgerald was initially suspended for 2 weeks earlier than he was fired.

Webb stated Fitzgerald and the college had an oral contract earlier than the suspension was introduced that the coach wouldn’t face additional self-discipline. Webb alleged that Fitzgerald, who was not current on the information convention, was unlawfully fired two to 3 days after Northwestern introduced the suspension.

“Fitzgerald made the choice to enter into this oral contract with Northwestern to permit Northwestern to maneuver previous the hazing allegations. Northwestern promised Fitzgerald that if he agreed to Northwestern’s proposed oral contract, it might put the complete matter to mattress, and Fitzgerald wouldn’t face any extra penalties,” the lawsuit says.

In a press release to CNN Thursday, Northwestern College spokesperson Jon Yates stated the six-month impartial investigation confirmed “past query that hazing – which included nudity and sexualized acts – happened on Fitzgerald’s watch.”

“As head coach of the soccer program for 17 years, Patrick Fitzgerald was liable for the conduct of this system. He had the accountability to know that hazing was occurring and to cease it. He failed to take action,” the assertion stated. “Quite a few former student-athletes have filed lawsuits towards Fitzgerald and the College associated to hazing they endured whereas on Fitzgerald’s group.”

“The security of our college students stays our highest precedence, and we deeply remorse that any student-athletes skilled hazing,” the assertion continued. “We stay assured that the College acted appropriately in terminating Fitzgerald and we’ll vigorously defend our place in court docket.”

The previous coach’s lawsuit additionally states Fitzgerald and his household have “skilled monumental emotional misery” as they grew to become conscious Fitzgerald “would by no means once more have the ability to get hold of the same head teaching place with important compensation. This emotional misery will undoubtedly prolong for years.”

On the information convention, Webb stated the college had “destroyed (Fitzgerald’s) popularity as probably the greatest soccer coaches in America based mostly on no reliable purpose or proof.”

“It’s despicable conduct on behalf of Northwestern, and my shopper and his household are entitled to their day in court docket for justice, and that’s why we filed this lawsuit,” he stated.

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