Media day is a hugely important event for college football programs as they attempt to make their case for why they’re excited about the season ahead.
For the current players on the Northwestern Wildcats football team, the last thing they want to talk about is the scandal currently swirling around the program and university, which has already claimed head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s job and has embroiled him and the school in multiple lawsuits.
Northwestern football players Bryce Gallagher, Rod Heard II, and Bryce Kirtz were scheduled to attend Big Ten media days on Wednesday but have decided to opt out given the scrutiny they would be subjected to over the program’s hazing scandal.
The trio released a statement via Northwestern Football’s social media accounts on Tuesday.
A statement from our student-athlete representatives regarding Big Ten Media Day: pic.twitter.com/er6vCO3iRH
— Northwestern Football (@NUFBFamily) July 25, 2023
“After talking with our parents, our teammates, and Coach Braun, we have made the decision to not attend Big Ten Media Day,” reads the statement. “This was very difficult since we were excited about the opportunity to participate in this great Big Ten tradition, and to talk about the game we love and the season ahead. But given the recent events involving the Northwestern football program, we did not want our participation to be dominated by the hazing issue and steal the focus away from football and the upcoming season.
“We are proud members of the NU football program and want our on-field performance and off-field conduct to always reflect the values of the university and our fans. Go Cats!!!”
No current Northwestern football players have talked to the media since Fitzgerald was fired on July 10. University officials also have not held any news conferences, though university president Michael Schill did speak with The Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper that broke the story, on Monday.
Interim head coach David Braun shared a separate statement supporting the players’ choice but noting that he will still attend the event on Wednesday.
“The decision from our players to forego Big Ten Media Day was entirely theirs, and they approached it with a great deal of maturity and thoughtfulness,” Braun said. “I’m fully supportive of both their reasoning and the decision itself, and I look forward to attending the event.”
Northwestern is currently facing four lawsuits from former football players over allegations of hazing and abusive behavior within the football program. So far, Fitzgerald is the only coach or admin to have been fired, though the school is reportedly looking into allegations that longtime assistant Matt MacPherson was aware of the hazing incidents but did not act.