The Northwestern University hazing scandal continues to grow as the first athlete, a former volleyball player, sued the university after alleging it was retaliated against after reporting mistreatment.
Northwestern is facing numerous lawsuits stemming from hazing allegations that include sexual abuse of players, including a new lawsuit by former quarterback Lloyd Yates that was filed Monday.
But the volleyball player proves that this scandal is not only found in a program on campus.
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«It’s not just about the football players,» Parker Stinar, one of the volleyball player’s attorneys, said Monday via The Associated Press.
In her lawsuit, where she is identified as Jane Doe, the volleyball player claims she suffered bodily harm «to the point of requiring medical attention» during a hazing incident in 2021.
The situation occurred after volleyball coach Shane Davis and an assistant coach said she had to be punished for violating the team’s COVID-19 guidelines after contracting the virus. She claims that she followed the guidelines, but got grounded anyway.
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She was forced to execute «suicides» in the gym, and when she got to each lane, she had to lie on the ground while her team, both coaches and players, looked on.
Campus police and Northwestern’s athletic department learned of the incident, according to the lawsuit. The player also said that she met with athletic director Derrick Gragg to discuss the culture of the volleyball program, though nothing was done in response.
Northwestern University spokesman Jon Yates confirmed to Fox News Digital that, in March 2021, the student made the allegation of hazing on the volleyball team. The coaching staff was later suspended following an investigation by the university. That uncovered hazing, which led to two volleyball game cancellations and anti-hazing training became mandatory.
«Although this incident predates President [Michael] Schill and Athletic Director Gragg’s tenure at the University are each taking it seriously. Dr. Gragg met with the student at her request last year, and as President Schill wrote in a message to the Northwestern community, the University is working to ensure that we have proper accountability for our athletic department,» Yates said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital.
«This includes engaging a company to assess the adequacy of our accountability mechanism and to detect threats to the well-being of our student athletes. President Schill also committed to examining the culture of Northwestern Athletics and its relationship to the academic mission. These reviews will be conducted with input and participation from faculty, staff, and students, and the University will make the recommendations publicly available.»
Yates’ case is the first to be filed under a plaintiff’s name and also has comments from other named players. More like this are expected to come soon, with civil rights lawyer Ben Crump calling this college sport the «Me Too» moment.
«This is the first in a series of lawsuits,» Crump said, adding that more than 30 will be filed in the coming weeks.
«It’s a big problem when these young people have the courage to take a stand and refuse to be victimized anymore, refuse to have their voices silenced,» she explained.
FORMER NORTHWEST PLAYERS KEEP PROMINENT CIVIL RIGHTS LAWYER AMID HAZING SCANDAL
Crump joined several former Northwestern athletes during a news conference last week, where he and co-counsel Steven M. Levin spoke with more than 50 student-athletes, both men and women, who said they had experienced hazing at school.
“It is apparent to us that this is a toxic culture that was running rampant in the athletic department at Northwestern University,” Crump said at the time.
«And what they shared with us was clearly a pattern and a practice from a culture that was built on physical intimidation, harassment, discrimination, abuse, both mental and sexual, and it became normalized.»
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Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald was fired after 17 seasons with the Wildcats following an independent investigation that found him guilty of his «lack of awareness and prevention of significant hazing in the football program,» according to an open letter written by Schill on July 10.
Paulina Dedaj of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.