Investigators recommend Northwestern enhance hazing prevention training

A team of investigators led by former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch recommended Northwestern enhance its hazing prevention training in the wake of a scandal that rocked the school’s athletic department.

Though the report released Thursday by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP stated “the results of our review have been largely positive,” investigators found room for improvement when it came to preventing hazing during a nearly year-long review.

“Some people expressed an interest in more interactive and scenario-based anti-hazing trainings, while others thought a greater emphasis on bystander intervention would be valuable,” the report said. “Accordingly, we recommend that the Athletics Department consider ways in which it can incorporate more bystander intervention, interactive, and scenario based trainings into its existing anti-hazing training program.”

Lynch and her team interviewed more than 120 people, including current and former student-athletes, non-athlete students, coaches, athletic administrators and staff, faculty, university administrators and trustees. They reviewed documents and data including athletic department policies.

Northwestern fired football coach Pat Fitzgerald in July 2023 after 17 seasons amid a hazing scandal that led to lawsuits across multiple sports with allegations including sexual abuse by teammates as well as racist comments by coaches and race-based assaults.

Fitzgerald was initially suspended following an investigation by attorney Maggie Hickey of law firm ArentFox Schiff. That probe did not find “sufficient” evidence that the coaching staff knew about ongoing hazing but concluded there were “significant opportunities” to find out about it. Fitzgerald is suing the school for $130 million, saying his alma mater wrongfully fired him.

Northwestern hired Lynch in July 2023 to lead an investigation into the culture of its athletic department and its anti-hazing procedures.


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