EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) — A group of former Northwestern football players shared stories of hazing and racism they say they experienced on the team.
More than 50 former student-athletes have filed lawsuits claiming they experienced physical and mental harm.
“We demand that this story is not silenced by football season or time, and that’s why these brave individuals are coming forward and will continue to come forward,” attorney Parker Stinar said.
Noah Herron, who played from 2000 to 2004, spoke at the press conference, saying he is a proud Black man who felt singled out due to race.
“White teammates were permitted to have their hair long, but players of color with braids or longer were told they have to cut it,” Herron said. “Me and fellow Black teammates were punished for our appearance and personalities. Threatened with playing time, starting positions, scholarships or even the ability to transfer.”
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Rico Lamitte played from 2001 to 2005. He said he felt he needed to speak up.
“I never imagined I’d be subjected to insensitive, racially undertoned activities, like the watermelon eating contest,” Lamitte said. “Of course there was jokes tossed back and forth about how racist that it was. If your group didn’t pick a Black player to participate, losing was assumed and vice versa.”
The attorneys representing the former players also spoke at the press conference.
“Over 20 lawsuits have been filed,” attorney Patrick Salvi Jr. said. “There are many many more claimants who do not have cases on file.”
Former football coach Pat Fitzgerald was fired in July, following allegations of hazing and abuse. He has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.
In that case, the university has said it acted appropriately in his termination.
Northwestern hazing scandal: Attorneys for ex-NU coach Pat Fitzgerald announce lawsuit