Eight former student-athletes from Northwestern University have hired prominent civil rights lawyer Ben Crump amid allegations of a hazing scandal that led the university to fire football head coach Pat Fitzgerald last week.
Crump and co-counsel Steven M. Levin announced Monday that they have spoken with several Northwestern student-athletes regarding the hazing accusations around the soccer program that emerged earlier this month.
«Whether Northwestern’s coaches condoned or participated in the bullying of these players or not, they are responsible for allowing and enabling a toxic, disgusting and harmful culture in their programs,» Crump said.
NORTHWESTERN’S PAT FITZGERALD ‘ABSOLUTELY KNEW’ ABOUT THE HAZING WITHIN THE FOOTBALL PROGRAM, SAYS FORMER PLAYER
«Unfortunately, our research suggests that this type of abuse of student athletes may be much more common on college campuses than we know, because there is tremendous pressure to remain silent. It is time to settle the score to protect young athletes.» .
Northwestern president Michael Schill announced in an open letter on July 10 that the decision to fire Fitzgerald after 17 seasons with wildcats it came as a result of an independent investigation that found him guilty for his «lack of knowledge and prevention of significant hazing on the football program.»
Fitzgerald was initially suspended two weeks after the confidential investigation, which found «sufficient» evidence that the coaching staff knew about the ongoing hazing. However, he too found that there were «significant opportunities» to find out and nearly a dozen current or former players acknowledged hazing within the program.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM
But as new information emerged, including allegations of racial bias, the university decided to fire Fitzpatrick.
«These former Northwestern football players are participating in this legal action because they want to support and validate the abuse claims made by the two players who spoke to the Daily Northwestern about the true nature of the hazing calls,» Levin said in a statement. statement.
«They believe that stricter supervision and accountability is required in college athletics to prevent such abuse from happening to other players in the future. The physical, emotional, and sexual abuse violated not only Northwestern’s own policies, but also numerous laws, And what’s worse, it has led to irreparable damage, with some players even experiencing suicidal thoughts.»
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Crump noted that they have spoken with others and that «the legal action is expected to extend beyond Northwestern’s football program and will also expose extreme and abusive hazing at other college athletic programs.»
Fitzgerald issued a statement after his firing pointing to the investigation as confirmation that he was not aware of any hazing within the show. She also retained a lawyer and said that she had instructed his lawyer to «take the necessary measures to protect my rights in accordance with the law.»
Associated Press contributed to this report.