CHICAGO (AP) — Former Northwestern College soccer coach Pat Fitzgerald is suing the varsity for $130 million, saying his alma mater wrongfully fired him within the wake of a hazing and abuse scandal that has engulfed the athletic division.
The announcement by Chicago-based lawyer Dan Ok. Webb on Thursday comes almost three months after Fitzgerald was suspended after which fired after 17 years as head coach of the Wildcats.
Webb mentioned that Fitzgerald would even be in search of further cash for “infliction of emotional misery,” future misplaced earnings and punitive damages. The $130 million consists of $68 million remaining in owed wage plus $62 million in future misplaced earnings, Webb added.
The go well with was filed in Cook dinner County Circuit Court docket in opposition to the college and its President Michael Schill, he mentioned. A listening to is scheduled for Dec. 7.
“If there was ever — if there was ever — an athletic coach at Northwestern College that ought to not have been terminated, it’s Coach Fitzgerald,” Webb mentioned. “The truth that he was terminated based mostly on no rational causes or details in any way, the truth that they’ve gone out and destroyed his fame as among the finest soccer coaches in America based mostly on no authentic cause or proof is disgraceful, is despicable conduct on behalf of Northwestern.”
The 48-year-old Fitzgerald was fired July 10, three days after the varsity introduced a two-week suspension with out pay following an investigation by lawyer Maggie Hickey of legislation agency ArentFox Schiff. That probe didn’t discover “adequate” proof that the teaching employees knew about ongoing hazing, however concluded there have been “vital alternatives” to search out out about it.
Webb known as that “a ridiculous allegation,” including that “no coach in America” did as a lot to forestall hazing and to ensure he would have a technique to discover out if it did occur. Webb mentioned the whistleblower within the investigation had a grudge in opposition to Fitzgerald, who came upon from a teammate throughout a management council assembly that the participant deliberate to report false allegations of hazing.
The lawsuit states that Fitzgerald met with athletic director Derrick Gragg and Northwestern basic counsel Stephanie Graham on July 3. It says Gragg informed Fitzgerald that Schill wished him to “take a success” for the findings in Hickey’s report.
The lawsuit additionally says Northwestern violated an oral contract agreed to on July 6 that Fitzgerald wouldn’t face additional penalties if he accepted the suspension and issued a press release supporting this system.
On July 8, the Every day Northwestern pupil newspaper revealed a narrative alleging each hazing and racism within the soccer program. The varsity modified its stance and fired Fitzgerald. Schill mentioned on the time the hazing was “widespread” and never a secret throughout the program.
“As head coach of the soccer program for 17 years, Patrick Fitzgerald was chargeable for the conduct of this system. He had the duty to know that hazing was occurring and to cease it. He failed to take action,” mentioned a press release from Northwestern College launched Thursday.
A number of present and former soccer student-athletes acknowledged that hazing happened within the soccer program in the course of the six-month unbiased investigation into the difficulty, the college’s assertion mentioned, including that “Pupil-athletes throughout a variety of years corroborated these findings, displaying past query that hazing – which included nudity and sexualized acts – happened on Fitzgerald’s watch.”
“The protection of our college students stays our highest precedence, and we deeply remorse that any student-athletes skilled hazing. We stay assured that the College acted appropriately in terminating Fitzgerald and we’ll vigorously defend our place in courtroom,” the assertion mentioned.
Webb on Thursday mentioned he has interviewed “possibly 40 to 50″ former Northwestern gamers and coaches who “didn’t see any vital hazing aside from horseplay,” which he described as any person making enjoyable of any person, or slapping them on the arm or having a battle within the bathe. He expects to name present gamers and coaches as witnesses. And he’s asking for Hickey’s full report; the varsity launched a abstract when it introduced Fitzgerald’s suspension.
Northwestern is dealing with greater than a dozen lawsuits throughout a number of sports activities with allegations together with sexual abuse of gamers by teammates, in addition to racist feedback by coaches and race-based assaults. Baseball coach Jim Foster was fired July 13 amid allegations of a poisonous tradition that included bullying and abusive habits.
Attorneys from a number of Chicago legislation corporations representing former Northwestern soccer gamers issued a press release calling Fitzgerald’s lawsuit “all about monetary acquire for him.” They mentioned he was “extremely tone deaf in defending his actions,” and his lawsuit “re-traumatizes” their purchasers.
“His criticism sarcastically particulars claims that he was deeply concerned in every participant’s life, psychological well being, tutorial profession, athletic efficiency and potential after commencement… all of which truly helps what we’ve been saying all alongside, that given the pinnacle coach’s proximity he knew or ought to have identified what was taking place in his program,” they mentioned.
Fitzgerald’s dismissal capped a speedy 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 document and — by a large margin — extra wins than some other coach. Northwestern received Large Ten West championships in 2018 and 2020, plus 5 bowl video games. However the staff went 4-20 over his final two seasons.
Defensive coordinator David Braun was elevated to interim coach six months after becoming a member of Fitzgerald’s employees.
Simply over two months in the past, Northwestern employed former U.S. Legal professional Common Loretta Lynch to guide an investigation into the tradition of its athletic division and its anti-hazing procedures. The college introduced no timetable for the investigation however mentioned the outcomes might be made public, not like these of the earlier investigation.