As the hazing controversy spreads, a volleyball player became the first female athlete to file a lawsuit against Northwestern University on Monday, alleging retaliation by the coach for reporting her maltreatment.

Jane Doe, a volleyball player, said she was physically abused to the point of needing medical care after a hazing event in early 2021.
According to the lawsuit, Jane Doe contracted COVID-19 in February of that year, despite adhering to the team’s COVID standards. Despite this, she claims that Northwestern volleyball coach Shane Davis and an assistant coach advised her that she would face a “punishment” for breaking the rules. A day later, on March 2, 2021, the volleyball team’s captains were given the authority to choose the punishment: She was forced to run “suicides” in the gym while diving to the floor each time she reached a line on the court. According to the suit, the volleyball coaching staff, team members, and trainers were all watching as she did this.

According to the lawsuit, both campus police and the sports department were made aware of the occurrence. Doe said that she was segregated from the squad and that Davis made her write an apologetic letter to trainers.

According to the lawsuit, the player visited with athletic director Derrick Gragg to discuss the volleyball program’s culture, but he “did nothing in response” to her concerns. The Big Ten scandal focuses on a problem that goes far beyond sports.

Pat Fitzgerald, the football coach, was sacked after a university inquiry discovered charges of hazing by 11 current or former players, including “forced participation, nudity and sexualized acts of a degrading nature,” school president Michael Schill said.  Fitzgerald has previously been accused of supporting a racist culture, including forcing players of colour to shave their hair and conduct differently in order to conform to the “Wildcat Way.”

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