Multiple lawsuits have been filed against former Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald since he was fired in July over allegations of hazing in his program. Originally, Fitzgerald was suspended for two weeks by Northwestern University following a school investigation through a third party, but the school’s president reconsidered penalties after the school’s student newspaper — The Daily Northwestern — began to describe the alleged hazing.
Now, former Northwestern athletic director and current Green Bay Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy has been named in lawsuits in Cook County, where Northwestern University is located. According to CBS News, the pair of lawsuits come from two former Northwestern football players — who remain anonymous. The players were members of the team from 2004-2005, seasons in which Fitzgerald was an assistant coach and Murphy was the program’s athletic director.
The lawsuit alleges that black players were “forced to compete in watermelon-eating contests,” which CBS News notes is a claim that was made in other lawsuits since Fitzgerald’s firing. Other claims include physical and sexual abuse.
Murphy took over as Northwestern’s athletic director in 2003, after over a decade with Colgate University in the same role. In 2006, Wildcats head football coach Randy Walker died of a heart attack in June, leading to the promotion of Fitzgerald — who was then the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at Northwestern — to the head coach position.
Murphy would hold that position until late 2007, when he joined the Packers as the team’s president. Originally, Bob Harlan named John Jones as his replacement as president of the Packers in May of 2007, but Jones took an indefinite leave of absence due to a heart issue. In December of that year, Murphy would be named the club’s 10th president.
In 2022, Murphy stated that his plan is to retire from the president position with the Packers in 2025 on the date of his 70th birthday, July 13th. This aligns with when the Green Bay area is scheduled to host the NFL Draft in April of the same year.