The scandal involving the alleged hazing among football players at Northwestern University that recently got the football head coach Pat Fitzgerald terminated has revealed other accusations from former student-athletes at the school. Along with the hazing, a little bit of racism was thrown in for good measure as well.
According to The Daily Northwestern, three former athletes who attended the university stated that there was a “culture of enabling racism” while they were participating on the school’s team. The racism was received from other football players as well as the staff at Northwestern University. Allegedly, Fitzgerald was well aware of the antics taking place although he has publicly denied knowing.
The three former players spoke to the media outlet about their troubling experience while going to the school.
One of them, a Latino by the name of Ramon Diaz Jr., who played the offensive lineman position for the school from 2005 to 2008 said that the team was hostile to anyone who wasn’t white. “I didn’t feel like I could be anything other than white,” Diaz told The Daily Northwestern. “We never felt like we could be ourselves. We had to fit in by being white or acting white or laughing at our own people.”
The purported racism was embedded in the culture of the football team according to another player whose identity was not revealed. This player, who is Black stated that he was on the team through the 2009 season. The participants did not hide their racist ways around him. He claims that Fitzgerald would ask the Black players and the coaches on the team to cut off longer hairstyles to fit in with what Fitzgerald stated was the “Wildcat Way.”
“Those are two phrases you would hear a lot around the program that referred to the sentiment of ‘fall in line,’” the player revealed. “If you were not in line with the “Wildcat Way,” Coach Fitz or any one of the coaches will be quick to say like, ‘yeah, check your scholarship.”
An additional Black former player who was also an offensive lineman said that he recalls the head coach Fitzgerald asking a member of the coaching staff to cut off his dreadlocks.
“There was a certain culture of enabling racism and other microaggressions that I had to experience and that other offensive linemen that were people of color had to experience,” the second player stated.
University spokesperson Jon Yates told The Daily that the allegations were not known to the school before this latest scandal.
“The alleged ‘racist commentary and behavior toward non-white players’ by Coach Fitzgerald and members of his staff would be entirely unacceptable and inconsistent with our culture and values, if true,” Yates wrote in an email to the publication. “As we do with any allegation, we will immediately address the accusations and any findings will be considered.”
The school has been caught up in a scandal that accuses the staff and teammates of hazing players, sexual assault, and various other infractions that have been supported by evidence after an internal investigation. Initially, the school suspended the head coach but, recently terminated his job after discovering testimony like the ones revealed by the aforementioned players.