EVANSTON, Ill. — A collection of former Northwestern athletes are showing their support for the culture around the school’s athletics program after a host of controversies this summer.
In a letter signed by over 1,000 Wildcats alumni who played a variety of sports in their time in Evanston, the group “strongly affirms” the positive experience they had at the school and that they would “do it all over again.”
The letter does condemn hazing of all kinds but believes it doesn’t “represent or define the overall athletics culture at Northwestern.”
“For those who contributed to Northwestern’s athletic history on the fields and courts of intercollegiate competition, the pain is acute — and we all share the anger, sadness, and frustration,” said former women’s tennis player Alexis Prousis in a news release that accompanied the letter. “We condemn hazing of any kind and support the victims during their time of healing and recovery.
What we must remember throughout this difficult time is that the actions of a few do not and should not define the University and Athletics as a whole.”
Here is the full text of the letter that was sent on Thursday.
We strongly condemn hazing in any form and firmly believe it has no place in collegiate
sports or, for that matter, in university life, period. The allegations being made are troubling
and we support the University’s efforts to fully investigate these claims. However, these
allegations do not represent or define the overall athletics culture at Northwestern.
We are former Northwestern University student-athletes.
As a group, we feel it is important to respond to the recent allegations about NU’s athletics
programs in which we all participated and respectively add our voices to this dialogue.
Our decision to attend NU was driven by the remarkable culture that fosters excellence in
sports, academics and community engagement. The emphasis on doing well while
upholding the highest standards was ingrained in each of us during our time in Evanston.
The level of competitiveness required in college athletics is formidable and the same is
required in the classroom at NU. The opportunity to compete at this level in both the
classroom and in our respective sports is unique and deeply valued. These experiences
were the building blocks for each of our lives after graduation.
This is the Northwestern we proudly came to know and appreciate, and for which we are
We strongly affirm the positive experiences we had at Northwestern and, if offered, would
do it all over again.
Signed by the below Northwestern Student-Athlete Alumni
This letter comes after a tumultuous six weeks for the athletics program that began with severe allegations of hazing against the football program from an anonymous whistleblower in early July. These revelations came to light after Northwestern initially suspended Pat Fitzgerald for just two weeks after an investigation into the whistleblower’s claims by former Illinois inspector general Maggie Hickey.
When further revelations came to light, Northwestern president Michael Schill decided to fire Fitzgerald after 17 years as head coach.
Since then, there have been allegations against other Wildcats sports and a number of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of former athletes. Baseball coach Jim Foster was relieved of his duties in July as he faced his own accusations of problematic behavior with players and coaches.