Northwestern Fires Baseball Coach Amid Turmoil Over Culture in Athletics

Northwestern University on Thursday fired Jim Foster, its head baseball coach, just three days after firing its longtime football coach amid a hazing scandal, deepening concerns over a toxic culture in the university’s athletics.

The university did not give a reason for terminating Foster, who had been the team’s head coach for a season. Derrick Gragg, the athletic director at Northwestern, said in a statement that “many factors were considered before reaching this resolution.”

That resolution came days after The Chicago Tribune reported that Foster had engaged in bullying and abusive behavior, made an inappropriate comment about a female staff member and spoken badly about his staff to other staff members, according to an internal human resources document obtained by the newspaper.

The Tribune also reported that Foster’s interactions with players could at times be combative. 670 the Score, a radio station, reported that Foster had made racially insensitive comments and that he had pushed injured players too hard by making them return too quickly, in some cases worsening their injuries.

Foster told 670 the Score that the allegations of racism were “ridiculous,” and that “maybe the players aren’t good enough and are just making excuses or are disgruntled.”

Foster did not immediately respond to a call or text seeking comment on Friday, and it was not clear if he had a lawyer. The assistant coach, Brian Anderson, will take leadership of the program, the university said.

The abrupt firing was yet another blow this week to the school’s sports department.

On Monday, Northwestern fired Pat Fitzgerald, its head football coach, after an investigation found that his players had participated in widespread hazing, including forced nudity and sexualized acts.

Michael Schill, the president of Northwestern, said in a statement that the decision to fire Fitzgerald, 48, came “after a difficult and complex evaluation” of his earlier discipline: a two-week suspension without pay.

The announcement of Fitzgerald’s firing came after The Daily Northwestern reported on Saturday that a player, who requested anonymity from the paper, accused players of punishing mainly freshmen with a sexual act that involved roughly 10 teammates restraining a younger player. On Monday, The Daily Northwestern also reported that three former players said there was a racist culture in the football program.

Fitzgerald said in a statement that he was “surprised” to learn that Schill had revoked their “mutual agreement” on the two-week suspension “without any prior notification and subsequently terminated my employment.”

Foster was hired in June 2022. He had previously been head coach of Army’s baseball team.

During the 2023 season, Northwestern went 10-40 under Foster.

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