In the midst of false allegations leveled against head coach Pat Fitzgerald and his Northwestern football program, the Wildcats have released a statement regarding the issue. The team not only denied the allegations, calling them “exaggerated and distorted”, but also highlighted Fitzgerald’s innocence and his involvement in the said case.
For those who missed it, Fitzgerald has been suspended for two weeks starting Friday following an investigation into the team’s alleged hazing incidents, which were brought forward by former Wildcats players. Details have emerged about the rigging allegations, with one player describing them as “despicable” and “inhumane treatment”.
In the wake of Fitzgerald’s suspension, however, the Northwestern football program claimed “concoctions were made with the intent to harm our program.”
“Northwest football players do not tolerate tampering. We would like to reiterate that as representatives of the Northwestern football program, we do not tolerate harassment in any form. Hedging goes against our values of honour, integrity and personal growth. We are committed to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment that promotes the well-being and growth of each and every individual on our team, the Wildcats said in the statement.
“…we strongly deny the validity of these allegations and are united in our assertion that they do not reflect the true character of our team.”
When it comes to Pat Fitzgerald’s role in the alleged tampering incidents, the team backed the coach’s recent claim that they only became aware of such incidents when an independent investigation was conducted at the end of the 2022 season.
“It is important to note that our head coach, Pat Fitzgerald, was not involved in any alleged incident in any way, shape or form. Coach Fitzgerald had no knowledge of these allegations until they were brought to his attention during an investigation. Throughout his tenure, Coach Fitzgerald has consistently prioritized the well-being and development of his players, and we stand with him in his unwavering commitment to his team,” the statement further said.
Here’s Northwestern Football’s full statement Counter chargesVia ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg.
The entire Northwestern team made a statement against the harassment allegations, which they called “exaggerated and distorted.” They also say that coach Pat Fitzgerald had no knowledge of or involvement in the allegations. pic.twitter.com/lMOAgCe0EB
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) 9 July 2023
It remains to be seen what Northwestern University will do in light of recent developments. Many have called for Fitzgerald’s dismissal from the school, especially after graphic details of the incident were released, though no final decisions appear to have been made on that front.
Although, of course, the allegation of rigging doesn’t bode well for the program. It may also have a great impact on the team’s future recruits, as it has caused huge damage to their reputations.