Nov 17, 2023 - Sports

Northwestern University's next step in post-Fitzgerald era

Coach David Braun celebrating with players. Photo: Ryan Kuttler/NU Sports

Four months after Northwestern University fired former football coach Pat Fitzgerald following a hazing scandal on the team, the school is trying to move on.

Why it matters: Northwestern has promised to fix the football program and be more transparent after reports of widespread hazing rocked the university.

Driving the news: Northwestern announced this week that David Braun will be the team's official head coach, after four months in an interim role.

What they're saying: "Every decision we make, the question will be asked, 'Well, how does this affect the young men that are part of our program?'" Braun told reporters yesterday. "We're gonna do everything in our power to ensure that we provide [players] the resources … to have the opportunity to reach their full potential."

  • NU president Michael Schill said Braun took the interim job under "incredibly challenging situations and conditions."

Catch up fast: Several former players have sued the school over allegations of harassment and abuse by other players, with some claiming coaches willfully ignored the behavior.

By the numbers: Fitzgerald was expected to make more than $7 million in 2024, according to USA Today.

  • But it's unclear how Braun's salary will stack up. A university spokesperson declined to share how much the new coach will be paid, telling Axios the school doesn't "disclose salary."

Between the lines: Northwestern is the only private school in the Big Ten conference, so Braun's salary isn't public record, as is the rest of his peers'.

The intrigue: Under Fitzgerald's former agreement, Northwestern would have ranked middle of the pack among Big Ten football coaches' guaranteed annual pay.

Data: USA Today; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: USA Today; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: The promised transformation of the football program comes as the school is pushing an $800 million, privately funded renovation plan of its stadium, Ryan Field, including a zoning change to allow six concerts a year.

  • Some neighbors are fighting the plan, citing traffic and noise concerns.

What's next: Evanston's City Council is expected to vote on the Ryan Field renovation Monday after punting on a vote last week.


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