Lawsuit: Northwestern coaches were subjects of alleged hazing

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Sep 18, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, USA; A Northwestern Wildcats helmet sits on an equipment chest during the fourth quarter at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Sep 18, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, USA; A Northwestern Wildcats helmet sits on an equipment chest during the fourth quarter at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Image: William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

A lawsuit filed Monday against Northwestern over alleged acts of hazing in the football program revealed new details, including a claim that members of the coaching staff knew what was happening because they were subjects of the actions themselves.

The lawsuit is the fourth against the school but the first one with a named plaintiff -- Lloyd Yates, a former quarterback and wide receiver for the Wildcats


The suit was filed in Cook County (Ill.) Circuit Court by civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Steven Lavin, who said last week they have talked to dozens of former players about their experiences.

USA Today, which reviewed the Yates lawsuit, reported that assistant coaches were among those who were "ran" by players. According to the lawsuit, "running" in the Northwestern program took place when players held down another person, without consent, and committed sexualized acts.


"During a training session during the Fall of 2015 or Spring of 2016, a strength and conditioning coach was 'ran' by members of the football team, on the field, in front of the entire team and coaching staff," Yates' lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit does not identify the coach who was the subject of the alleged act.

Northwestern officials did not respond immediately to USA Today.

Northwestern fired longtime coach Pat Fitzgerald on July 10 after an investigation into allegations, though Fitzgerald, through his attorneys, has denied any knowledge of hazing.

Yates, a member of the Wildcats from 2015-17, alleges in the lawsuit that he was "ran" by 12 to 15 players at preseason camp at Camp Kenosha in the summer before his first season, according to USA Today. He said the alleged act took place in a dorm common area and resulted in him feeling "embarrassed, ashamed, dehumanized, powerless, dirty and anxious," per the lawsuit

He also contended in the lawsuit that team members were pressured to take part in "naked" drills and other events.


The lawsuit also includes new allegations of racial discrimination committed by the coaching staff.

Yates is suing on the grounds of willful and wanton misconduct and violating a state gender violence statute, per USA Today. He is seeking more than $50,000 for each count.


The investigation into alleged hazing at Northwestern has expanded past the football program, and on Monday, a former women's volleyball player sued the school. ESPN reported that her lawsuit contends Northwestern and the athletic department didn't adequately respond to alleged hazing in 2021.

The lawsuit names coach Shane Davis, the two most recent campus presidents and the three most recent athletic directors among the defendants, per ESPN.


--Field Level Media