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Northwestern Subject to Flurry of Lawsuits for Hazing

In January 2023, Northwestern University (NU) announced it hired an outside investigator for a hazing allegation regarding the football team. After interviewing over 50 individuals affiliated or formerly affiliated with the football program, an investigation summary was released in July 2023, finding "the complainant's claims were largely supported by evidence gathered during the investigation, including separate and consistent first-person accounts." NU initially suspended its football coach for two weeks (the coach denied all knowledge of the hazing) and made changes to the program to hinder any future hazing. Ultimately, NU fired the coach. The university's president publicly acknowledged the hazing included "forced participation, nudity and sexualized acts of a degrading nature…"

However, the fallout continues for NU. So far, ten individuals have filed suit against NU athletes alleging hazing. Former players describe the hazing as "assaultive, illegal, and often sexual in nature." One Latino player alleges more senior team members shaved the words "Cinco de Mayo" into his hair and reports seeing a Black teammate subjected to racist comments and taunts. Each lawsuit alleges sexual hazing. In an article by the Daily Northwestern, a former player described incidents with a group of 8-10 players wearing masks holding a freshman teammate while “dry-humping” him in a dark locker room.

In August 2023, NU announced it hired former U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch to initiate a new investigation into the culture of hazing on sports teams and its anti-hazing procedures. NU states the details of her report will be made public, unlike its prior investigation.