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

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

The Daily Northwestern


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Three new plaintiffs file lawsuits against Northwestern in football hazing scandal

A+team+huddle.+Three+other+former+players+have+filed+suit+against+the+University%2C+bringing+the+total+to+25.
Daily file photo by Kimberly Espinosa
A team huddle. Three other former players have filed suit against the University, bringing the total to 25.

Content warning: This story contains mention of hazing, sexual assault and suicidal ideation.

Three new former football players filed lawsuits Wednesday in the Cook County Circuit Court against Northwestern and former coach Pat Fitzgerald.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuits include former linebacker Nathan Fox (SESP ’19) and the anonymous former player who first reported the hazing to the University and spoke to ArentFox Schiff attorney Maggie Hickey during the independent investigation. The lawsuits list new allegations against the team and coaching staff, one of which details how Fox told at least six NU employees — including several mental health professionals — about the hazing years prior to Hickey’s investigation.

According to the lawsuit, Fitzgerald looked directly at Fox during a team meeting and accused him of “bitching and moaning to (his) therapists about not playing and having unfair treatment” after a therapist allegedly urged Fox to waive his confidentiality rights and Fox agreed to it.

Fox alleges that a therapist at NU told him the hazing was not “real” but instead a symptom of depressive bipolar disorder, prescribing him medication that caused serious side effects including mental fogginess, sleep paralysis, memory loss and suicidal thoughts. 

“It is abundantly clear to us that numerous staff members knew about the violent sexual hazing and emotional abuse that was occurring under Northwestern’s watch,” Levin & Perconti attorney Margaret Battersby Black wrote in a Wednesday news release. “Employees were told about the abusive hazing by some of the players. Instead of doing the right thing and reporting the abuse or taking steps to stop it, those who knew either ignored it or retaliated against those who came forward.”

With the addition of these three plaintiffs, the total number of football players who have filed suit against the University is 25. According to the release, more former players intend to file suit in the coming weeks. 

Other players have alleged in lawsuits they were subjected to racial discrimination, sexualized hazing, physical abuse and retaliation while on the football team. Fitzgerald, who is suing the University for breach of contract and defamation, was fired in July after some of these allegations became public

The University declined to comment on the pending litigation. Fitzgerald’s attorney Dan Webb did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Email: [email protected]

X: @nicolejmarkus

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