EVANSTON, Ill. — Two former assistant baseball coaches and the director of baseball operations at Northwestern University have filed a lawsuit against the school and several additional parties Monday.
Just after that occurred, the school came out with a stern rebuttal.
The complaint was filed on Monday on behalf of Dusty Napoleon, Jon Strauss and Chris Beacom against Northwestern University, former head baseball coach Jim Foster, and several other members of the athletics administration — alleges retaliatory discharge, harassment, bullying and abuse that led to Napoleon, Strauss and Beacom’s contracts being discharged.
Attorney Christopher J. Esbrook of Chicago-based law firm Esbrook P.C. along with Beacom spoke at a news conference concerning the lawsuit. (See the news conference in the video above)
The complaint also alleges charges of racism, sexism and egregious tortious conduct, including unwarranted retaliation against these coaches after they reported NCAA violations by Foster to university officials, and seeks compensation in excess of $50,000 for alleged damages.
“We reported coach Foster’s conduct to Northwestern, believing they would do the right thing. Northwestern did not do the right thing,” said Beacom in a prepared statement he read during the news conference. “Instead, they swept our reports under the rug, putting their staff, student-athletes, and reputation at risk. Northwestern stood by coach Foster and got rid of the coaches that blew the whistle on him, and only when the media found out about coach Foster’s abuse, did Northwestern choose to do something.
“I’m here today because I want real change at Northwestern. I want the university to take the safety of our student-athletes and staff seriously and not ignore serious issues, like the ones I and my former colleagues blew the whistle on. We believe the only way to do this is to shine a light on Northwestern’s failures, and that’s what I’m here to do today.”
After the news conference began, Northwestern released a statement in which they pushed back against the allegations.
This lawsuit is without merit and the University intends to contest it vigorously. When the athletic director and the University were first made aware of complaints about Coach Foster, the University immediately initiated a human resources investigation. The assistant coaches and director of operations received full support from the University, they were paid for their full contracts and, at their request, were allowed to support other areas of our athletic department as needed. Coach Foster has been relieved of his duties.
In this instance and others, the athletic director and department acted promptly and handled the complaints in accordance with established University policy and protocols.
The complaint says otherwise, alleging that Northwestern conducted a three-months-long investigation, where the decision was made to “handle the matter internally.”
After the coaches allegedly said they did not feel safe in the work environment and while travelling to away games when the 2023 season began, the complaint said they were immediately demoted from their positions within the Northwestern Athletic Department, and their contracts were not renewed with the baseball team.
“Chris [Beacom], Jon [Strauss], and Dusty [Napoleon] were trying to do the right thing as whistleblowers in telling the school of the head coach’s NCAA violations and a bullying attitude that led to the potential harm of baseball players,” Esbrook said. “Yet, Northwestern turned its back on them. The University worked on a code of silence, instead of working through the issues reported by these brave coaches.”