EVANSTON, Ill. (AP)Northwestern has hired an outside attorney to investigate alleged hazing within its football program.

The school said Wednesday in a statement it ”immediately” hired attorney Maggie Hickey of law firm ArentFox Schiff to lead the investigation after it was made aware of the alleged hazing following this past season. The school said Hickey will likely interview players, coaches and staff members. ESPN first reported the investigation.

”While we do not yet know whether the allegations are true, hazing is prohibited by University policy, and we take these claims seriously,” Northwestern said in a statement. ”The health, safety and well-being of our students is the first priority.”

Northwestern would not say if a player made the allegation, or if players, coaches or staff members were involved.

”The purpose of Ms. Hickey’s investigation is to find the underlying truth of the allegations – including the scope of any potential hazing activity or harmful culture,” Northwestern said.

The Wildcats finished 1-11 for their worst record since the 1989 team went 0-11. They’ve lost 17 of their past 18 games.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald is 110-101 in 17 seasons leading his alma mater and is by far the school’s winningest coach. He led the Wildcats to Big Ten West championships in 2018 and 2020 plus five bowl victories. But they are 4-20 over the past two seasons.

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