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Northwestern baseball coach Jim Foster is fired days after football hazing scandal

Northwestern head coach Jim Foster looks on from the third base box during an NCAA baseball game against USC Upstate on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023, in Spartanburg, S.C.
Sean Rayford
Northwestern head coach Jim Foster looks on from the third base box during an NCAA baseball game against USC Upstate on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023, in Spartanburg, S.C.

Northwestern University fired head baseball coach Jim Foster on Thursday, days after the university let go of head football coach Pat Fitzgerald amid an investigation into hazing allegations.

Foster was "relieved of his duties effective immediately," Athletic Director Derrick Gragg said in an announcement posted to the university's athletics page.

Gragg did not give details behind Foster's termination but said "many factors were considered" before the decision was made.

"Nothing will ever be more important to Northwestern than providing its students a place that allows them to develop in the classroom, in the community, and in competition at the absolute highest level, and building a culture which allows our staff to thrive," Gragg said.

"As the Director of Athletics, I take ownership of our head coaching hires and we will share our next steps as they unfold," he added.

Assistant coach Brian Anderson, a former MLB player who won a World Series ring with the Chicago White Sox in 2005, will take over as interim coach.

While it is unclear what led to Foster's termination as head coach, both The Chicago Tribune and 670 The Score reported that Foster allegedly led a toxic culture within the baseball program, as his alleged bullying and verbally abusive behavior led to a human resources investigation by the university.

670 The Score reported that Foster also allegedly made racist statements and discouraged players from reporting their injuries. When asked about this allegation by the Chicago radio station he denied all allegations, calling them "ridiculous."

Both current and former players and alumni told The Tribune that they alerted university officials of Foster's behavior before the start of the 2023 season. The university's investigation found "sufficient evidence" that Foster engaged in bullying and abusive behavior, The Tribune reported.

A Northwestern athletics spokesperson declined NPR's request for comment regarding the investigation and Foster's termination.

Foster was hired in June 2022 by the university, which went 24-27 this past season. Before his tenure at Northwestern, Foster was the head coach atWest Point, where he led the Black Knights to four consecutive league titles and NCAA playoff tournament appearances.

News of Foster's termination comes days after the university parted ways with its long-time football coach, Pat Fitzgerald, following an investigation into hazing allegations.

The university announced it had previously suspended Fitzgerald for two weeks without pay after reviewing the investigation's executive summary. Though the university said there was no "sufficient" evidence that coaches knew about the misconduct from Fitzgerald, University President Michael Schill said Fitzgerald "should have known."

"Northwestern University is an extraordinary university with an exceptional athletics program. I am committed to ensuring that the misconduct that occurred in our football program never happens again anywhere in our university community," Schill said in a letter to the community.

Northwestern has yet to name Fitzgerald's replacement.

NPR's Dustin Jones contributed to this report. contributed to this story

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jonathan Franklin
Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.