Northwestern University

Northwestern baseball coach ‘engaged in bullying and abusive behavior,' reports say

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As the Northwestern football program finds itself dealing with the fallout of an investigation into allegations of hazing, the school’s baseball program is also at the center of controversy, as two reports indicate that head coach Jim Foster was found to have “engaged in bullying and abusive behavior” at the school.

Those reports were released Monday, with 670 the Score radio host Danny Parkins and the Chicago Tribune both releasing details of a human resources investigation that was undertaken in late 2022 after multiple players and staffers levied complaints about Foster’s conduct.

According to both Parkins and the Tribune, Foster was found in the investigation to have “engaged in bullying and abusive behavior” and “made an inappropriate comment regarding a female staff member.”

Parkins’ reporting also indicates that Foster was accused of making comments that were “racially insensitive” and that he allegedly “discouraged members of the team from seeking medical attention for their injuries.”

The university’s report indicated that it did not find enough corroborating evidence to support those allegations, according to Parkins, but the investigation did not interview players regarding the claims.

Players also reported being subjected to “punishment runs” of at least two and a half hours, according to Parkins.

These allegations follow the death of a Rhode Island baseball player Joseph Ciancola, who collapsed during a team workout in 2011.

Ciancola’s mother told reporters that her son had died of heat stroke and that his body temperature spiked to 107 degrees following the workout, which occurred while Foster was the head coach at the school.

She later sued the school and a settlement was reached in the case in 2016.

In a statement made to Parkins, Foster said that the allegations stemmed from “players (not being) good enough, and just making excuses or being disgruntled.”

Parkins reported that Foster called the racism allegations “ridiculous,” and he also denied trying to dissuade players from seeking medical treatment.

Finally, Foster said that the reporting felt like “piling on because of what’s happening with the football program,” according to Parkins’ account of the conversation.

Foster declined comment in the Tribune’s story, citing the school’s communications policy.

These new allegations come as the football program copes with the fallout from a hazing investigation that led to the suspension of head coach Pat Fitzgerald, with investigators finding corroborating evidence of the claims while saying that Fitzgerald and the team’s coaching staff had “significant opportunities” to discover the hazing practices.

The report’s executive summary, released by the school Friday, found that Fitzgerald and the staff likely were not aware of the issues.

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