Fired Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald sues school for $130 million over wrongful termination

CHICAGO (AP) — Pat Fitzgerald, the previous Northwestern College soccer coach, has sued the varsity for $130 million, saying his alma mater wrongly fired him within the wake of a harassment and abuse scandal that engulfed the athletic division.

The announcement comes from legal professional Dan Okay. Chicago-based Webb on Thursday almost three months after Fitzgerald was suspended after which fired after 17 years because the Wildcats’ head coach.

Fitzgerald will even search further cash for “inflicting emotional misery,” lack of future earnings and punitive damages, Webb mentioned. Webb added that the $130 million contains $68 million remaining in again pay plus $62 million in misplaced future earnings.

He added that the lawsuit was filed in Cook dinner County Circuit Court docket towards the college and its president, Michael Schill. The listening to is scheduled for December 7.

“If there may be — if there may be — an athletic coach at Northwestern College that shouldn’t be fired, it’s Coach Fitzgerald,” Webb mentioned. “The truth that he was fired with none logical causes or info in anyway, and the truth that they went out and destroyed his status as top-of-the-line soccer coaches in America with out reputable cause or proof is disgraceful, and it’s despicable habits.” On behalf of Northwestern.”

Head coach Pat Fitzgerald of the Northwestern Wildcats reacts after the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ryan Field on October 18, 2019 in...

Head coach Pat Fitzgerald of the Northwestern Wildcats reacts after the sport towards the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ryan Subject on October 18, 2019, in Evanston, Illinois. (Quinn Harris/Getty Photographs)

Fitzgerald, 48, was fired on July 10, three days after the varsity introduced a two-week suspension with out pay following an investigation by legal professional Maggie Hickey of the legislation agency ArentFox Schiff. That investigation didn’t discover “ample” proof that the teaching workers was conscious of the continuing harassment, however concluded there have been “substantial probabilities” of discovering out.

Webb known as it a “ridiculous declare,” including that “no coach in America” ​​did as a lot to stop harassment and guarantee he would have a approach of figuring out if it truly occurred. Webb mentioned the whistleblower within the investigation had a grudge towards Fitzgerald, who came upon from a teammate throughout a management council assembly that the participant deliberate to report false allegations of harassment.

The lawsuit states that Fitzgerald met with athletic director Derek Gragg and Northwestern common counsel Stephanie Graham on July 3. The go well with says Gragg advised Fitzgerald that Schell wished him to “take successful” due to the findings in Hickey’s report.

The go well with additionally says Northwestern violated an oral contract agreed on July 6 that Fitzgerald wouldn’t face additional sanctions if he accepted the suspension and issued an announcement supporting this system.

On July 8, The Daily Northwestern student newspaper published a story alleging harassment and racism in the football program. The varsity modified its place and expelled Fitzgerald. Shell mentioned on the time The hazing was “widespread” and not a secret Inside the program.

“As the pinnacle coach of the soccer program for 17 years, Patrick Fitzgerald was answerable for working this system. He had a accountability to know that hazing was occurring and cease it. He failed to take action,” mentioned an announcement from Northwestern College launched Thursday.

The college’s assertion mentioned that a number of present and former soccer student-athletes acknowledged that harassing practices occurred within the soccer program through the six-month impartial investigation into the case, including that “student-athletes throughout a spread of years corroborated these findings, which demonstrates past that”. He disputed that the harassment — which included nudity and sexual acts — occurred whereas Fitzgerald was underneath surveillance.

“The protection of our college students stays our prime precedence, and we deeply remorse that any student-athletes had been harassed. We stay assured that the college acted appropriately in terminating Fitzgerald and can vigorously defend our place in courtroom,” the assertion mentioned.

Webb mentioned Thursday that he has interviewed “perhaps 40 to 50” former Northwestern gamers and coaches who “did not see any vital hazing apart from horseplay,” which he described as somebody making enjoyable of somebody, slapping them on the arm or hitting them. . Combat within the toilet. Present gamers and coaches are anticipated to be known as as witnesses. Hickey’s full report is requested; The varsity launched a abstract when it introduced Fitzgerald’s suspension.

Northwestern faces greater than a dozen lawsuits throughout a number of sports activities with allegations together with sexual assault of gamers by teammates, in addition to racist feedback by coaches and staff members. Race-based attacks. Baseball coach Jim Foster was fired on July 13 amid allegations of a poisonous tradition that included bullying and abusive habits.

Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald talks to his team after the 2022 Aer Lingus College Football Classic game between...

Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald talks to his staff after the 2022 Aer Lingus Faculty Soccer Traditional sport between the Northwestern Wildcats and Nebraska Cornhuskers at Aviva Stadium on August 27, 2022, in Dublin, Eire. (Oisin Kinere/Getty Photographs)

Attorneys from a number of Chicago legislation companies representing former Northwestern soccer gamers issued an announcement calling Fitzgerald’s lawsuit “about monetary acquire for him.” They mentioned he was “extremely tone-deaf in defending his actions,” and that his lawsuit “re-traumatizes” their purchasers.

“Paradoxically, his grievance particulars his claims that he was deeply concerned in every participant’s life, psychological well being, educational profession, athletic efficiency and post-graduation potential… all of which truly helps what we have been saying all alongside, which is that as a result of the pinnacle coach was near him they mentioned : “He knew or ought to have recognized what was occurring in his program.”

Fitzgerald’s firing marked the end result of a fast fall from grace for somebody who appeared entrenched at his alma mater. He was an All-American linebacker, a star on the 1995 staff that received the Large Ten and reached the Rose Bowl after many years of dropping at Northwestern.

Fitzgerald led the Wildcats to a 110-101 report and — by a large margin — extra wins than every other coach. Northwestern received Large Ten West championships in 2018 and 2020, in addition to 5 bowl video games. However the staff went 4-20 over his last two seasons.

Defensive coordinator David Brown was promoted to interim coach six months after becoming a member of Fitzgerald’s workers.

Simply over two months in the past, Northwestern employed former U.S. Legal professional Basic Loretta Lynch to guide an investigation into the athletic division’s tradition and anti-hazing procedures. The college didn’t announce a timetable for the investigation, however mentioned that the outcomes could be introduced, in contrast to the outcomes of the earlier investigation.

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