Will Pat Fitzgerald Represent Northwestern At Big Ten Media Days As School President Reconsiders His Punishment? Wallace

Videos by OutKick

How long will it take Northwestern to determine if the right punishment was handed down to Pat Fitzgerald, the second time around? After a weekend full of questionable decisions and explosive allegations, President Michael Schill finds himself at a crossroads just one year into the job.

The school needs to be transparent through the rest of this ordeal. They need to be releasing what they have in-regards to the alleged hazing and telling the truth. What we saw this past weekend was a school hoping to skate through this hazing scandal by slapping a two-week suspension on its head coach. Northwestern did not think the details of a six-month investigation would become public.

This right here is where the president and administration screwed up. The school released an initial summary of its findings and levied a two-week suspension on Pat Fitzgerald. They weren’t expecting the public to hear about the alleged details. Now, the school finds itself in a terrible spot, just two weeks before Big Ten media days.

Will Pat Fitzgerald Be At BIG10 Media Day?

Now, the question is whether or not Fitzgerald will be representing the Wildcats in Indianapolis. The allegations of hazing were “largely supported by the evidence” that was found by the lawfirm of ArentFox Schiff. The firm could not prove that the assistant coaches and Fitzgerald were knowledgeable of the hazing. Unfortunately the summary left us with more questions than answers.

“While the investigation did not uncover evidence pointing to specific misconduct by any individual football player or coach, participation in or knowledge of the hazing activities was widespread across football players,” the investigative summary read.

How does knowledge and participation of the hazing across the football program not involve the assistant coaches or head coach who are around these players on a daily basis?

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald
Head coach Pat Fitzgerald of the Northwestern Wildcats looks on against the Penn State Nittany Lions. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Northwestern Didn’t Know The Allegations Would Be Made Public?

The Friday release from the school detailed a two-week suspension of Pat Fitzgerald. The school will also put a hall monitor in the locker room to report any suspicious activity. Yes, Northwestern suspended its coach during a dead period. Fitzgerald would most likely be hanging out with his family during this time.

In a detailed report written by ‘The Daily Northwestern’ there are allegations of players being ‘dry-humped by teammates’ in a dark room. Many other allegations of hazing were documented in the report. That sparked current players to write a letter that was released to the public on Saturday night.

“It is disheartening to see that the allegations brought forth against our team have been exaggerated and twisted into lies. These fabrications have been made with the intention of harming our program and tarnish the reputation of our dedicated players and coaching staff. We firmly deny the validity of these accusations. And stand united in our assertion that they do not reflect the true character of our team,” the letter detailed.

Speaking with two current players this weekend, both said the team was made aware of the statement. Most of the conversations transpired through a group chat. So if you’re wondering whether or not every player on the team had a say in the letter from the ‘ENTIRE’ football roster, it’s safe to assume they did not.

We also had theatrics on Sunday. A current member of the team told ESPN that the alleged victim in the incident that sparked the investigation was doing this to get Fitzgerald fired. But, the report also detailed screenshots that ESPN had seen of a whiteboard with “SHREK’S LIST”, which included punishments for certain players.

If players had a plan for punishment just sitting in the locker room for a three-year period, it’s hard to fathom that coaches and even Fitzgerald himself didn’t see it.

Will Pat Fitzgerald Represent Northwestern At Big Ten Media Days?

This now gives us a timeline on whether or not Fitzgerald will be with the Northwestern program by July 27th. The Big Ten will hold its media days and the Wildcats will be one of the main focuses. Making the right decision is imperative. The only reason president Michael Schill released a statement late Saturday night was to cover himself. This after an in-depth story from the student-journalists at Northwestern.

This wasn’t new to the school or the board of trustees. They all knew what was in the report regarding hazing. Don’t forget, Michael Schill has only been president at Northwestern for a year, after coming over from Oregon. Why didn’t he put the same type of effort into his first statement regarding the findings and subsequent punishment of Fitzgerald? Why did it take the school newspaper making the allegations public for Schill to take a step back and rethink the suspension of his head football coach?

None of this makes any sense, besides the fact that Northwestern did not expect the findings to be made public. If Pat Fitzgerald had zero knowledge of the alleged incidents, but the player’s allegations were “largely supported by the evidence” according to investigators, there’s a bigger problem here.

A second player backed up the allegations. The ‘ENTIRE’ football team denied them. Meanwhile, the president is looking to potentially punish Fitzgerald for a longer period of time, after the alleged incidents were made public.

Northwestern Has Decisions To Make

Something doesn’t feel right about the ongoing situation at Northwestern. There are too many questions left unanswered. It’s time for the school to be transparent and release the findings of the investigation. They cannot use the Friday night news dump as a way to test the backlash they could face.

If they don’t rip the bandaid off now, the next six weeks leading up to the season-opener will present bigger problems for the school. Northwestern is currently on the clock. All eyes will be on the last week of July in Indianapolis, and the school knows it.

President Michael Schill has already backtracked once in the last three days regarding the punishment of Pat Fitzgerald. If he’s going to take this further, he better not screw-up the second time.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

One Comment

Leave a Reply
  1. They shouldn’t even send anybody. What could possibly come of it other than negative press? What else is there to talk about when it comes to frigging NW football? And we know how incompetent people are all over the universities, doubtful they have anybody capable of navigating that minefield.

Leave a Reply