Four former Northwestern football players filed lawsuits Thursday against the school alleging hazing and mistreatment, with two naming former athletic director and current Green Bay Packers CEO Mark Murphy as a defendant for the first time.
The two former players, who both filed under "John Doe," were at Northwestern from 2004 to 2008. Murphy served as athletic director from 2003 to 2007, when he left for the Packers. Both of the players' lawsuits also name former coach Pat Fitzgerald, former university president Henry Bienen and the school's board of trustees as defendants. Bienen served as president from 1995 to 2009.
Both lawsuits outline instances of hazing, sexual abuse and racial discrimination, and allege that Fitzgerald "knew and encouraged this behavior to happen to these very young and impressionable men." Both former players also allege they were subjected to "running," a hazing ritual where they were restrained and dry-humped by older teammates, during preseason training in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2004. Fitzgerald, who Northwestern fired July 10 after 17 years as head coach, has denied any knowledge of hazing incidents in the program.
Murphy and the Packers "respectfully" declined comment Thursday.
The two other lawsuits filed Thursday only named the university as a defendant. One came from Tom Carnifax, who played from 2016 to 2019 and alleged that he was hazed beginning as a freshman, as well as "bullied, belittled and ostracized by coaches" because of the many injuries he dealt with during his career. According to the lawsuit, Carnifax is still dealing with his mental health after his time at Northwestern.
The other lawsuit came from a former player at Northwestern from 2014 to 2018, who claims he had to engage in a physical altercation to avoid being "ran" as a freshman during Kenosha camp. Classified as "John Doe," he claims to have seen other players being "ran" and an unnamed assistant coach "ran" multiple times.
Thirteen former Northwestern players have filed lawsuits against the school since Fitzgerald was fired. None of the claims have identified players who led the hazing activities. Northwestern on Tuesday announced former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch would lead new investigations into the culture of the school's athletics program and how it implements accountability and reporting mechanisms.