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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Attorney now retained by 15 former student-athletes across three sports, four speak out

Daily file photo by Colin Boyle
Ryan Field.

Attorney Ben Crump announced Wednesday morning that he now represents 15 former Northwestern student-athletes — a number up from 12 yesterday —  and that his clients now include both men and women. 

He said he has spoken with around 50 athletes, and expects to speak with more.

His clients expanded to include athletes from the baseball and softball teams, with one female athlete. None of them are current players, and the attorneys have not yet filed a lawsuit.

It was first announced Monday that Crump and co-counsel Steven Levin had been retained by a group of former student athletes in regards to “physical, sexual, and emotional abuse” in NU’s athletics programs. 

Crump said some of the new information he’s learned about programs outside of football has been alarming.

He called what he heard from his softball client “deplorable,” and said that the softball program “seems to be as toxic as the football program.” His firm has talked to three of the softball player’s teammates, but does not officially represent them currently. 

Four of the former football players that Crump and Levin are representing – Lloyd Yates, Warren Miles-Long, Simba Short and Tom Carnifax – spoke Wednesday morning about their allegations of hazing in the program and their choice to speak up. They are among the first to speak publicly about what happened to them on the team.

“We were thrown into a culture where physical, emotional, and sexual abuse was normalized,” said Yates, a quarterback and wide receiver for the team from 2015-2017. He was referenced as the players’ spokesperson. 

Yates added there was a code of silence that felt “insurmountable,” and that “a lot of coaches took part of (the hazing) in many different manners.”

There is no set timeline for when the attorneys will file a lawsuit on behalf of the clients. According to Levin, it will be filed in “a reasonable near future.”

“We are approaching this in a calm, methodical, detailed manner,” he said. “We want to do this right…We don’t feel that it would serve any purpose in this time to rush to filing the case.”

Crump and Levin emphasized that they have been speaking with many more athletes outside of the official 15, and want to include as many voices as they can. 

“Even as we speak, I was told that we had three other former college athletes go on our website and fill out the forms saying they want to tell about their experience,” Crump said. “We’re trying to get everybody’s story in to fit it with the pattern, because the stories sound eerily similar to each other.”

Levin and Crump would not directly answer questions concerning specific defendants, saying instead that their clients are directing the lawsuit against “an institutional culture.”

“I would suggest to you it’s Northwestern’s job to sort this out,” Levin said. “Northwestern is the one who knows what the coaches knew or didn’t know.”

All four former players offered support to other NU student-athletes and encouraged them to come forward. 

“Don’t be silent. There is a support system here for you,” said Short, a linebacker from 2015-2016. “We hear you, and we love you.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @alycebrownn

Related stories:

— Former NU football player details hazing allegations after coach suspension

— University president Michael Schill says he “may have erred” in determining Pat Fitzgerald sanction

 Investigation finds evidence of hazing in football program, Pat Fitzgerald suspended

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