Ohio State Buckeyes vs Northwestern Wildcats 11/05/22 Nov 5, 2022; Evanston, Illinois, USA; With high winds, the flags blow straight out prior to the NCAA football game between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch Ncaa Football Ohio State Buckeyes At Northwestern Wildcats

Content warning: This story contains discussion of sexual abuse, hazing, and suicidal ideation. The National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at 1-800-656-4673. The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline can be reached at 988 or 1-800-784-2433.

On Friday, Northwestern University concluded a university-commissioned law firm investigation of their football program after hazing allegations from former players. The investigation found that evidence suggested hazing did occur. The school suspended head coach Pat Fitzgerald for two weeks, as a result of the investigation not concluding that he knew, but finding that he had “significant opportunities” to learn of this.

But many downplayed the severity of Fitzgerald’s suspension, especially with it coming in the offseason and during a recruiting dead period. And the Wildcats are now under further fire. On Saturday, Nicole Markus, Alyce Brown, Cole Reynolds, and Divya Bhardwaj of the student newspaper The Daily Northwestern ran detailed claims from one former player. Those included discussion of the alleged hazing practices, including coerced sexual acts, and their impact on players:

There are many disturbing details in there, including freshmen players being selected for “running” (or dry-humping in the locker room by eight to 10 upperclassmen in masks), or being forced to strip naked and bear crawl across the floor or slingshot themselves with exercise bands, or being forced to conduct a naked quarterback-center exchange. And a “carwash” one sounds particularly bad:

In a once-a-year tradition dubbed “the carwash,” the first player said that some players would stand naked at the entrance to the showers and spin around, forcing those entering the showers to “basically (rub) up against a bare-naked man.” Upon entering the showers, the player alleged that players set up a hose they connected to the shower to spray people.

“It’s extremely painful,” the player said.

That player had much more to say on how they felt about these practices, and the mental health impacts those created for teammates. Here’s some of that:

“I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and it’s just absolutely egregious and vile and inhumane behavior.”

…“It’s just a really abrasive and barbaric culture that has permeated throughout that program for years on end now.” 

…“I’ve had friends reach out to me in the middle of the night having very suicidal tendencies,” he said.

…The player said that he doesn’t believe the sanctions levied against the program are enough, calling them a “slap on the wrist.” The player said he also does not feel that the University should keep confidential the details of the findings, calling the secrecy “extremely frustrating.”

“My goal in reporting these details is to shed light on the harsh severity of this program and just absolutely inhumane traditions and activities that go on in our program,” he said.

The details of the allegations here certainly add to the ongoing controversy around Northwestern football. We’ll see how the university responds to this Daily Northwestern report.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at 1-800-656-4673. The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline can be reached at 988 or 1-800-784-2433.

[The Daily Northwestern]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.