CHICAGO, IL – The hazing scandal at Northwestern University continues to widen as a female volleyball player has come forward to sue the university over allegations she was retaliated against for reporting mistreatment, while quarterback and wide receiver Lloyd Yates became the fourth known victim in an alleged hazing and the first plaintiff named.
“This shows that it isn’t just men,” said the volleyball player’s attorney Parker Stinar. “It isn’t just football players.”
The volleyball player identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe says she was physically harmed to the point of requiring medical attention during a hazing incident in 2021. After contracting COVID, her coaches informed her she would undergo a “punishment” for violating guidelines where the coaches permitted the team’s captains to pick the punishment: to run “suicides” in the gym while diving to the floor each time she reached a line on the court while coaching staff, team members and trainers watched.
Jane Doe was isolated from her team and forced to write an apology to the trainers. She eventually met with athletic director Derrick Gragg to discuss the culture of the volleyball program but he did nothing in response to her concerns.
The gruesome hazing allegations have widened to reports of misconduct within baseball and softball programs, as well.
Lloyd Yates included in the lawsuit hazing acts that occurred within the team, including claims that members of the coaching staff were aware of those acts, and in some cases, subjected players to them.
The lawsuit alleges coaches were “ran” by players “on more than one occasion.” The complain defines “running” as incidents where a group of players forcibly held down a nonconsenting individual and “rubbed their genital areas against the person’s genitals, face and buttocks while rocking back and forth.” During the training session in 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.
“This is the first in a series of lawsuits,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump told NBC News Chicago. He plans on filing more than 30 over the coming weeks.
Pat Fitzgerald, football coach at Northwestern, was fired after an investigation found allegations of hazing by 11 current or former players including “forced participation, nudity and sexualized acts of a degrading nature.” Another lawsuit accuses Fitzgerald of enabling a culture of racism, including forcing players of color to change their hair and behave differently to be in line with the “Wildcat Way.”