CHICAGO — Two former Northwestern University athletes who were allegedly subjected to racism, hazing, physical abuse, and retaliation while part of the athletic program shared their stories for the first time.
A press conference was held Friday ahead of Northwestern’s football game at Wrigley Field Saturday. The athletes shared stories of the abuse they endured during their time at the university.
Both former athletes described a toxic culture of hazing and racial discrimination, claiming that they were told they had to conform to the so-called ‘Wildcat way.’
“Me and my other teammates were teased, humiliated, threatened, hazed, and abused because we refused to conform to that ‘wildcat way’ which is coded white culture,” former captain Rico Lamitte said.
They said they wanted to keep the scandal on the public’s mind as Northwestern gets ready to play at Wrigley Field.
An investigation launched in December 2022 found evidence of hazing in the football program, but insufficient evidence showed coach Pat Fitzgerald knew about it.
Northwestern University fired Fitzgerald in July and many ex-players have filed lawsuits against the school.
Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is currently investigating the entire Northwestern athletic program.
Fitzgerald sued Northwestern in October claiming wrongful termination. Lamitte and other players shared that they were told the way they style their hair and clothes had to conform to white culture.
“So often it’s easy for alumni, coaches and presidents to overlook something like this, a toxic culture, something bad that’s happened because there’s a football game on Saturday,” attorney Parker Stinar said.
Three former Northwestern baseball program employees and a woman volleyball player have filed lawsuits against the school claiming abuse.
The players are represented by Chicago law firm Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C. and co-counsel Stinar Law, PLLC — which represent over 50 former Northwestern student-athletes who have suffered trauma due to the misconduct.