2 Northwestern football recruits de-commit amid hazing scandal fallout, firing of Pat Fitzgerald

Jessica D'Onofrio Image
Wednesday, July 12, 2023
Northwestern, Fitzgerald set for potential legal showdown after firing
New fallout from the hazing scandal at Northwestern University.

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- Northwestern University football hazing scandal has cost the program some new recruits.

Athletes Payton Stewart and Julius Tate announced on social media that they are now de-committing from Northwestern.

This comes as Northwestern faces a possible legal showdown after firing head football coach Pat Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald hired high-profile trial attorney Dan Webb, who acted as the special prosecutor in the Jussie Smollett case.

Webb told ESPN, "If we were to proceed with litigation, it would be a very large damage case.".

Webb also said, "If I present that to a jury someday, a jury is going have a hard time believing that you can terminate someone for cause when they didn't know anything about [the incidents;]."

READ MORE: Ex-Northwestern player says coach Pat Fitzgerald 'failed' by not stopping hazing

This comes as Northwestern named Fitzgerald's defensive coordinator David Braun, who was just hired six months ago, to lead the team as the acting head coach.

"The biggest part will be recruiting I think," sports attorney Eldon Ham said. "How are they going to fix this? How are they going to make people comfortable? The coach that recruited these kids isn't there anymore that's always a problem."

The program also retaining its assistant coaches and support staff for the 2023 season.

"Maybe they don't know enough to sort out which ones maybe culpable and which ones weren't so for the moment they'll keep it status quo," Ham said. "I can't imagine it stays this way."

While Fitzgerald maintains that he knew nothing of the alleged hazing, six tenured Northwestern professors sent a letter to university officials demanding they halt the planned 8-hundred million dollar rebuild of Ryan Field.

"We cannot abide by a program, any program at Northwestern that treats students this way, that allows this kind of horrible abuse and that does not seek full transparency and accountability," Northwestern professor Elizabeth Shakman Hurd.