Northwestern has engaged former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to lead a review of its athletic department processes and culture, with the results of the investigation to be made public, the school announced Tuesday.
It’s the latest and arguably most transparent step Northwestern has taken to address the hazing scandal that has engulfed the university in the last month. Seven former football players and one former volleyball player have filed lawsuits against Northwestern to date, while attorneys representing former Northwestern athletes have implicated the baseball and softball programs as well.
Lynch, who served as U.S. attorney general from 2015 to 2017 and is now a partner at the New York-based firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, begins her probe immediately, according to the school’s announcement. She will provide updates on the review to Northwestern president Michael Schill and the Northwestern Board of Trustees’ Audit and Risk Committee and then make her findings public at the conclusion of her review.
“Hazing has absolutely no place at Northwestern. Period,” Schill said in a statement. “I am determined that with the help of Attorney General Lynch, we will become a leader in combating the practice of hazing in intercollegiate athletics and a model for other universities. We will provide all of our students with the resources and support they need and do whatever is necessary to protect their safety and ensure that our athletics program remains one we can all be proud of.”
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Northwestern hired an outside firm to investigate reports of hazing and released its initial report on July 7, in which it announced corrective steps such as establishing a locker room monitor for football, in-person hazing training from outside experts and a two-week suspension for football coach Pat Fitzgerald. But the school didn’t make its specific findings public. The scandal then erupted when a whistleblower provided details of sexualized hazing in a July 8 story published by The Daily Northwestern, and since, multiple former athletes have come forward with their own accounts of alleged misconduct.
Fitzgerald was fired on July 10, and both football players and volleyball coach Shane Davis have elected not to appear at their sports’ respective conference media day events.
“The athletics department welcomes this review as a critical tool in identifying the additional steps Northwestern can take to eradicate hazing,” athletic director Derrick Gragg said in the statement released Tuesday. “By making the results of her review public, we hope our entire community will be better informed and guided as we all work to address this critical issue in college athletics.”
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