Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald looks on in the second half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Ryan Field. Oct 30, 2021; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald looks on in the second half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

“The fact that Northwestern hoped no one would dig into this at the best journalism school in the country is wild.”

That was popular Twitter account RedditCFB on Monday night after it had been announced that Northwestern University had fired head football coach Pat Fitzgerald in the wake of damning details and hazing accusations surrounding his program.

The reference is to The Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper that investigated claims by former players of disturbing hazing practices within the football program that Fitzgerald may have been aware of and did nothing to prevent.

Before the July 8 report by Nicole Markus, Alyce Brown, Cole Reynolds, and Divya Bhardwaj, Fitzgerald had been placed on unpaid suspension for two weeks following an internal investigation that found no evidence Fitzgerald knew about the incidents.

However, after the student paper released its report, which included very direct accusations of Fitzgerald’s knowledge, Northwestern president Michael Schill said in a statement that “I believe I may have erred in weighing the appropriate sanction.”

After that, more allegations came to light, including former players saying they experienced instances of racism from coaches and teammates. At the same time, allegations of bullying and abusive behavior cropped up against Northwestern’s baseball coach. With the university spinning into damage control, they fired Fitzgerald on Monday, ending his 17-year tenure.

While not everyone has appreciated their coverage, the Daily Northwestern and its editors and reporters have been heaped with praise from journalists and others in the sports media. At a time when so many media companies are laying off reporters or restructuring their sports coverage, it felt to many like a shining beacon of hope that the future of good sports journalism isn’t dead yet.

[Daily Northwestern, Poynter]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to