Northwestern Scandal: Four Days, Two Firings As Baseball Coach Jim Foster Let Go After Pat Fitzgerald’s Ouster

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They used to say that Bob Ryan and Peter Gammons of the Boston Globe basically ran the Boston Celtics and Red Sox, respectively, from the 1970s through the 1990s.

Well, lately, the power of the press has been pulling the strings of Northwestern University’s athletics. And Northwestern does have one of the nation’s finest Journalism schools.

Last Saturday, one story in The Daily Northwestern student newspaper detailed sexually oriented hazing in the football program much more publicly than a supposed thorough investigation of several months by a university-hired law firm.

Former Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald prepares to take the field with his team against Nebraska at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, last August 27. (Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)

That night, Northwestern president Michael Schill admitted in an email to the Northwestern community that he “may have erred” in only suspending football coach Pat Fitzgerald for two weeks that Friday. And he would revisit the matter.

Two days later, Schill fired Fitzgerald after 17 seasons despite being the winningest coach in program history at 110-101.

On Monday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Northwestern baseball coach Jim Foster participated in bullying and abusive behavior, including pressuring players to return from injuries faster. That apparently sped up an ongoing internal, human resources probe by Northwestern into the baseball program. And three days later on Thursday, Northwestern athletic director Derrick Gragg fired Foster.

So, let’s hear it for journalism, right? Unless it’s overreaction, which seems to be incredibly popular lately.

Northwestern Fired Baseball Coach Jim Foster On Thursday

“Jim Foster is relieved of his duties effective immediately,” Gragg said. “Nothing will ever be more important to Northwestern than providing its students a place that allows them to develop in the classroom, in the community, and in competition at the absolute highest level, and building a culture which allows our staff to thrive.”

Foster just finished his first season at Northwestern in 2023 after coaching Army from 2017-22 and Rhode Island from 2006-14. The Wildcats finished 10-40 last season. During the season, assistant coaches Dusty Napoleon and Jon Strauss left the program, which is odd.

“This has been an ongoing situation, and many factors were considered before reaching this resolution,” Gregg said. “As the Director of Athletics, I take ownership of our head coaching hires and we will share our next steps as they unfold.”

Both coaches were fired with cause, which on paper means Northwestern will not have to pay off either one. That can be disputed by each fired coach, though.

Patrick Fitzgerald Received A 10-Year Contract In 2021

Fitzgerald stands to lose more than $40 million. In 2021, he signed a 10-year, $57 million contract to keep him in Evanston, Illinois, through 2030. The former Northwestern linebacker (1993-96) went 1-11 overall and 1-8 in the Big Ten in 2022 following a 3-9 and 1-8 season in 2021. But he won Big Ten West titles in 2018 and ’20 at 9-5 and 8-1 and 7-2 and 6-1. He also turned down an interview for the head coaching job at the Carolina Panthers in 2020.

Northwestern believes Fitzgerald knew about the strange an unusual hazing and that it was systemic in the program he led. If he didn’t know about it, that’s about as bad as if he did. Some have criticized Northwestern for deciding to keep Fitzgerald’s staff in place, if it indeed believes the issues are systemic. Could such a move help Fitzgerald’s argument for an unjust, with-cause firing?

Well, not exactly. Of the 10 assistant football coaches on staff, four have just been hired since January. That includes the new interim coach – defensive coordinator David Braun. Defensive line coach Christian Smith and cornerbacks coach LaMarcus Hicks have been at Northwestern only since February. And new receivers coach Armon Binns got there in January.

The other six assistants are there for now, and maybe most will stay so as to keep some continuity. Or, more importantly, that will help to keep players from entering the transfer portal.

Former LSU coach Ed Orgeron, by the way, said he is not Northwestern bound. A report by had Orgeron interested.

“Man, I don’t know where they get this stuff,” he told the Baton Rouge Advocate Thursday. “I’m done with that (coaching).”

During the 2021 season, LSU paid Orgeron $17 million to no longer coach.

Northwestern’s dismissal of Foster was not nearly as problematic. It’s just baseball, which has never been very important at Northwestern. The Wildcats last reached the NCAA postseason in 1957. Gragg promoted assistant coach Brian Anderson to interim head coach immediately Thursday. Done.

Northwestern Wildcats Won Under Pat Fitzgerald

The firing of Fitzgerald hit home much more and may have more lasting issues as far as booster donations and NIL support because of his popularity. He was a favored son if not a patron saint of the program. He starred at linebacker on the 1995 team under coach Gary Barnett that finished 10-2 and won the Big Ten at 8-0 to reach the Wildcats’ first Rose Bowl since the 1948 season. It was also Northwestern’s first winning season since 1971. As a coach, Fitzgerald produced nine winning seasons and 10 bowls from 2008 through 2020. He will get another head coaching job more sooner than later.

But a 10-year contract at Northwestern? At 4-20 the last two seasons of the NIL and Transfer Portal era, how difficult would it have been for Fitzgerald to return to winning? He would have been coming off his third losing season in four years. The last two seasons were worse than his first two.

Schill had no part in that 10-year contract in 2021 for Fitzgerald. Did Schill look at the money he could save Northwestern by firing Fitzgerald now while studying the hazing discoveries by his student newspaper?

Hasty decisions perhaps, but Northwestern at least has a fresh start with likely more green.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.


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  1. I’m sure that Northwestern has a leading journalism school but the journalists the schools are spitting out these days are mostly rich, spoiled left wing nut jobs whose opinions and writing go one way.

  2. This is the same Daily that beclowned itself two years ago when correctly reporting on a radical far-left student protest that shut down a speaker they didn’t like. The Daily dared to actually quote the radical students by name. The students then complained they were “triggered” by the Daily’s reporting and threw another tantrum, causing the Daily to apologize to these violent radicals for correctly reporting events. You cannot make this shit up. The paper and its “employees” were roundly mocked by actual journalists. The Daily is nothing more than a far-left, sensationalist propaganda piece.

  3. Maybe we can get The Daily Northwestern can turn it’s gaze to the Hunter Biden laptop and do a story on it? They’re on a hot streak and our legacy media has covered for Hunter and Joe for years now. It’d be nice to have a real newspaper go after what should be a huge story.

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