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Northwestern Launches Probe Into Hazing Claims In Football Program

EVANSTON, IL — Northwestern had hired an outside investigator to look into allegations of hazing that came to the school’s attention following the conclusion of the Wildcats’ 1-11 season, the university announced on Wednesday.

School officials said that the allegations involved “potential hazing” within the program, which prompted the school to appoint attorney Maggie Hickey to investigate the claims, the school said.

While we do not yet know whether the allegations are true, hazing is prohibited by university policy, and we take these claims seriously,” the school’s statement said. “The health, safety and well-being of our students is the first priority.”

ESPN reported on Wednesday that Northwestern players were notified of the inquiry on Tuesday by athletic director Derrick Gragg. The school said that the investigation is in very early stages and will be “rigorously fair” to everyone involved. The probe will focus on fact-finding and not on jumping to conclusions, officials said.

The school said that allegations of hazing are taken very seriously and that the university strongly supports individuals who come forward with concerns and encourages anyone to report allegations.

Hickey has experience investigating complaints and in 2019 worked with the Chicago Police Department to implement a multi-year consent decree to work toward reforms within the department. Hickey co-leads the ArentFox Schiff law firm’s Complex Litigation Group and Government Enforcement and White Collar Group, will lead her investigation independently, the school said.

School officials that the investigation will include interviews with players, coaches and staff.

The statement from Northwestern did not specify the nature of the allegations, including whether the alleged hazing was done by a player, staff member or member of the coaching staff.

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