Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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Northwestern bowl eligible months after firing Pat Fitzgerald during hazing scandal

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The Northwestern football program faced uncertainty when Pat Fitzgerald was fired in July in response to accusations of hazing among players.

Four months later, the Wildcats are bowl eligible.

The Wildcats defeated Purdue, 23-15 to become eligible for a bowl for the first time since 2020.

The accomplishment came just days after the school named interim coach David Braun the program’s head coach.

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Most sportsbooks had Northwestern’s win total at over/under 3½ after it finished 1-11 last season. Saturday’s was its sixth win of the season.

“It’s been an incredible week,” Braun said after the game. “We accomplished something special today.”

Xander Mueller intercepted Ryan Browne’s pass at Northwestern’s 25-yard line as the Boilermakers were threatening on a potential game-tying drive. The pick came with 21 seconds left, so the Wildcats were able to take a knee to end the game.

The Wildcats seem to have put the Fitzgerald controversy behind them.

Fitzgerald filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the university and its president, Michael Schill, last month.

Fitzgerald is seeking more than $130 million for reputational and punitive damages and lost earnings from his firing that followed a two-week suspension during a hazing investigation. The amount includes the $68 million that remained on his contract and $62 million in future earnings. Fitzgerald alleges Northwestern unlawfully fired him for cause July 10. 

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Fitzgerald’s attorney, Dan Webb, also said Northwestern and Fitzgerald reached an oral agreement that, outside of Fitzgerald’s two-week suspension, there would be no further penalty.

He was the winningest head coach in the university’s history with an overall record of 110-101 in 17 seasons with the Wildcats. Fitzgerald was also a legendary player with the program, earning national defensive player of the year honors twice in a Wildcats uniform. 

The Wildcats end their regular season next Saturday in Illinois against the Fighting Illini.

Fox News’ Scott Thompson and Ryan Gaydos, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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