Northwestern’s Preseason Involved Anti-Hazing Training

It's an understandable response to a wide-ranging scandal

Northwestern football players
Head coach David Braun of the Northwestern Wildcats walks out onto the field with Bryce Gallagher and Josh Priebe before a college football game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Over the summer, a series of unpleasant details about Northwestern’s football program came to light. A New York Times report in July described “an ever-deepening crisis, brought on by the hazing allegations” that a number of former players had cited in lawsuits. After the university investigated the aforementioned accusations, it fired the head coach of its football program, Pat Fitzgerald — and faced much more uncertainty for the upcoming season that it had expected.

What’s a scandal-stricken football program to do when looking ahead to a new season? Writing at ESPN, Adam Rittenberg has an answer there — and it involves addressing the biggest issue facing the team. In comments made to the media before Northwestern played Rutgers (The Scarlet Knights defeated the Wildcats by a score of 24-7 in New Jersey), Northwestern athletic director Derrick Gragg described the steps they had taken in the wake of the hazing scandal — and what else was in the works.

According to Gragg, the university enlisted the help of Protection For All — whose website states their focus as being on “protecting all from misconduct” — and had the football team go through anti-hazing training before the season began. This process will be repeated for all of the university’s athletic programs before their respective seasons begin.

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“I think everybody understands the importance of conducting themselves in a first-class manner, as it relates to being representatives of themselves, and their families and to this university,” Gragg told ESPN.

It’s not hard to see why Northwestern would opt for this approach — and hopefully, it can stop the issues that were apparently pervasive throughout the university’s athletic programs in recent years.

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