AP Photo/Matt Marton, File
Former Northwestern offensive lineman Ramon Diaz and another unnamed source told Josh Peter USA Today that Wildcats associate football coach Matt MacPherson allegedly witnessed team members engaging in strip pulling and other disruptive activities.
“He would come in and laugh at the guy(s) doing striptease,” Diaz texted Peter about MacPherson’s alleged behavior.
Diaz, an offensive lineman who played from 2005-2008, also claimed MacPherson would come in and out of the locker room during activities. The withdrawals reportedly occurred during the team’s week-long preseason retreat at Camp Kenosha in Wisconsin.
The other source, described as a “person in contact with several former players,” claimed MacPherson allegedly witnessed the team engaging in a hazy ritual called “running.”
A former player described that practice in detail in a July 8 report written by Nicole Markus, Alyce Brown, Cole Reynolds and Divya Bhardwaj. Northwestern daily:
The former player said he reported his experiences to the University in late November 2022. He claims most of the team’s pickpockets centered around a practice called ‘running’, which was used to punish team members, mostly beginners, for mistakes made in the field and in practice.
“If a player was selected for a ‘run’, the player who spoke to The Daily said, they would be restrained by a group of 8-10 top-class players wearing various ‘sweeping-like’ masks, who would then begin to ‘dig’ the victim in a dark dressing room.
Northwestern President Michael Schill initially suspended longtime football coach Pat Fitzgerald for two weeks without pay on July 7 after an investigation led by attorney Maggie Hickey found “sufficient” evidence that the coaches knew about the hazing. However, the investigation reportedly stated that there was “significant opportunity” to detect and report such conduct, according to Andrew Seligman of the Associated Press.
Three days later, Schill reversed course and announced that he relieved longtime football coach Pat Fitzgerald of his duties on July 10.
“During the investigation, eleven current or former student-athletes admitted that hazmatization has been ongoing within the football program,” Schill wrote.
“In new media reporting today, even more former Northwestern football student-athletes confirmed that the hazing was systemic dating back many years. This has never been about a former student-athlete and his motives; this is much bigger than that.”
Schill also wrote that “the depiction involved forced participation, nudity, and sexual acts of a degrading nature, in clear violation of Northwestern policies and values.” He stated that no student-athlete has suffered physical injuries to his knowledge as a result of disorderly conduct.
While Fitzgerald was fired, the assistant coaches and support staff remained on board. David Braun, who just joined Northwestern this offseason as the new defensive coordinator, has been named the interim head coach.
MacPherson is listed as the head coach in charge of running backs. According to Peter, the 46-year-old joined Fitzgerald’s staff in 2006. He worked with the defenders before moving to defender in 2018.