Northwestern Rips T-Shirts Backing Fired Coach

Pat Fitzgerald was dismissed after accusations of hazing
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2023 6:40 PM CDT
Northwestern Rips T-Shirts Backing Fired Coach
Northwestern University Athletic Director Derrick Gragg watches the football team's practice in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Northwestern University's athletic director criticized football team staff members on Wednesday for wearing T-shirts to practice with a message he condemned as inappropriate and offensive after the firing of head coach Pat Fitzgerald. A few of the employees at practice wore shirts reading, "Cats against the world" with the number 51 on them—Fitzgerald's number when he played for the school, Yahoo Sports reports. He was fired last month after accusations of hazing were made, which the school said are being investigated.

Athletic Director Derrick Gragg issued a statement saying he was "extremely disappointed" by the staffers' decision to wear the shirts, worn on the day of the first news conference the team has held involving players since the hazing allegations were made, per WGN. "Hazing has no place at Northwestern," Gragg said in a statement to USA Today. He called the shirts "inappropriate, offensive and tone deaf." He said will address investigate and address hazing accusations, which also have surfaced in other Northwestern teams. The school did not answer a query about whether the staff members have been told to stop wearing the shirts.

The school faces lawsuits filed by eight former football players. "After everything that's happened, it's outrageous that Northwestern University and its football program are still not taking this seriously," said Steve Levin, who's handling suits with attorney Ben Crump. David Braun, the team's interim head coach, said at the news conference that it wasn't his place to censor anyone's speech, though he has the authority to prohibit the shirts at the private school. (More hazing stories.)

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