Ex-Northwestern volleyball player becomes first female athlete to join hazing scandal lawsuits

Lloyd Yates, a former quarterback, also brought a new lawsuit against the university

The Northwestern University hazing scandal continues to grow, as the first female athlete – an ex-volleyball player – has sued the university after alleging she was retaliated against after coming forward to report mistreatment. 

Northwestern is facing numerous lawsuits stemming from hazing allegations that include sexual abuse to players, which includes a new lawsuit by former quarterback Lloyd Yates that came on Monday. 

But the volleyball player shows that this scandal isn’t just allegedly found in one program on campus. 


ex northwestern volleyball player becomes first female athlete to join hazing scandal lawsuits

Northwestern's Shane Davis during the South Carolina Gamecocks game on Sept. 1, 2017, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. (Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"It isn’t just football players," Parker Stinar, one of the volleyball player’s attorneys, said Monday via The Associated Press. 

In her lawsuit, where she is identified as Jane Doe, the volleyball player claims she was physically harmed "to the point of requiring medical attention" during a hazing incident in 2021.

The situation occurred after volleyball coach Shane Davis and an assistant coach said she had to receive punishment for violating the team’s COVID-19 guidelines after contracting the virus. She claims that she did follow the guidelines, but received a punishment anyway. 


She was forced to run "suicides" in the gymnasium, and when she reached each line, had to dive on the floor while her team, coaches and players alike, watched. 

Campus police and the Northwestern athletic department were made aware of the incident, according to the lawsuit. The player also said she met with athletic director Derrick Gragg to discuss the volleyball program’s culture, though nothing was done in response. 

Northwestern University spokesperson Jon Yates confirmed to Fox News Digital that, in March 2021, the student made the hazing allegation on the volleyball team. The coaching staff was later suspended following an investigation by the university. That found hazing did take place, leading to two volleyball game cancellations and anti-hazing training becoming mandatory. 

ex northwestern volleyball player becomes first female athlete to join hazing scandal lawsuits

Former Northwestern football player Lloyd Yates speaks Wednesday, July 19, 2023, alongside other former players, from left, Warren Miles Long, Tom Carnifax and Simba Short about the abuse and hazing they say occurred in the program. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

"Although this incident predated President [Michael] Schill’s and Athletic Director Gragg’s tenure at the University, each is taking it seriously. Dr. Gragg met with the student at her request last year, and as President Schill wrote in a message to the Northwestern community, the University is working to ensure we have in place appropriate accountability for our athletic department," Yates said in a statement given to Fox News Digital. 

"This includes the engagement of a firm to evaluate the sufficiency of our accountability mechanism and to detect threats to the welfare of our student-athletes. President Schill has also committed that we will examine the culture of Northwestern Athletics and its relationship to the academic mission. These reviews will be conducted with feedback and engagement of faculty, staff and students, and the University will make the recommendations publicly available."

Yates’ case is the first that comes forward with a plaintiff’s name and has comments from other named players in it as well. More like this one is expected to come soon, with civil rights attorney Ben Crump calling this college sports’ "Me Too" moment. 

"This is the first in a series of lawsuits," Crump said, adding more than 30 will be filed in the coming weeks. 

"It’s a real big deal when these young people have the courage to take a stand and refuse to be victims anymore, refuse to have their voices silenced," he explained. 


Crump was joined by several former Northwestern athletes during a press conference last week, where he and co-counsel Steven M. Levin spoke with more than 50 student-athletes, both male and female, who said they’ve experienced hazing at the school. 

"It is apparent to us that it is a toxic culture that was rampant in the athletic department at Northwestern University," Crump said at the time. 

"And what they shared with us was clearly a pattern and practice of a culture that was predicated on physical intimidation, harassment, discrimination, abuse, both mentally and sexually, and it was normalized."

ex northwestern volleyball player becomes first female athlete to join hazing scandal lawsuits

A volleyball on the court prior to the Division I Mens Volleyball Championship between the UCLA Bruins and the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at EagleBank Arena on May 6, 2023, in Fairfax, Virginia. (Scott Taetsch/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald was fired after 17 seasons with the Wildcats following an independent investigation that found him at fault over his "failure to know and prevent significant hazing in the football program," per an open letter written by Schill on July 10. 

Fox News' Paulina Dedaj and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Scott Thompson is a sports writer for Fox News Digital.

Authored by Scott Thompson via FoxNews July 24th 2023