Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner Jim Phillips denied that he tolerated hazing while serving as athletic director at Northwestern from 2008 to 2021.
Northwestern is reeling from the termination of head football coach Pat Fitzgerald and the firing of head baseball coach Jim Foster earlier this month. Fitzgerald was let go after an internal investigation found hazing to be widespread in the football program, and an anonymous former player told the student newspaper that Fitzgerald may have known it was taking place.
Since Fitzgerald's firing, three lawsuits have been levied against the school alleging Fitzgerald and other leaders were negligent in their duty to protect student-athletes. Two of the three John Doe complaints name Phillips as a defendant.
"This has been a difficult time for the Northwestern University community, a place that my entire family called home," Phillips said in a statement Thursday. "Over my thirty-year career in intercollegiate athletics, my highest priority has always been the health and safety of all student-athletes. Hazing is completely unacceptable anywhere, and my heart goes out to anyone who carries the burden of having been mistreated.
"Any allegation that I ever condoned or tolerated inappropriate conduct against student-athletes is absolutely false. I will vigorously defend myself against any suggestion to the contrary."
Phillips became the commissioner of the ACC in 2021 after 13 years at Northwestern, overlapping with most of Fitzgerald's tenure as head coach. A former star player at the school, Fitzgerald had been head coach since 2006.
--Field Level Media