Northwestern names Skip Holtz special assistant to head coach amid hazing scandal

Skip Holtz the head coach of the Birmingham Stallions during the 2023 USFL Championship Game at Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium on July 01, 2023 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/USFL/Getty Images for USFL)

Veteran coach Skip Holtz was introduced by Northwestern University on Tuesday to serve as special assistant to the head coach as the program deals with fallout from the recent hazing scandal.

A longtime coach in the collegiate and professional ranks, Holtz will assist interim head coach David Braun and the Wildcat football team with game-planning and day-to-day operations among other responsibilities.

"With his many years of head coaching experience and tremendous knowledge of the game, Coach Holtz will be an invaluable resource for myself, our coaching staff and student-athletes during the upcoming season," Braun said in a statement. "I’m thrilled to welcome Coach Holtz to Evanston and can’t wait to begin working with him."

Holtz currently serves as head coach of the USFL's Birmingham Stallions and has led them to back-to-back league championships. His new role with Northwestern will not interfere with his professional coaching job, the university said.

Holtz coached college football teams for a total of 22 seasons including stops at UConn, East Carolina, Louisiana Tech and USF. He posted a 152-121 record as a head coach.

Northwestern's athletic programs have been mired in scandal after recent allegations of misconduct, including sexual abuse and racial discrimination.

Several lawsuits have been filed by former players, accusing fired football coach Pat Fitzgerald of enabling a culture of racism, including forcing players of color to cut their hair and behave differently to be more in line with the "Wildcat Way."


"The abusive culture was especially devastating for many players of color," said former Northwestern quarterback and receiver Lloyd Yates, who is Black.

Northwestern fired Fitzgerald in July after a university investigation found allegations of hazing by 11 current or former players, including "forced participation, nudity and sexualized acts of a degrading nature," University President Michael Schill wrote.

After the school initially suspended Fitzgerald, The Daily Northwestern published an article including allegations from a former player who described specific instances of hazing and abuse and suggested he may have been aware.

Fitzgerald, who led Northwestern for 17 seasons and was a star linebacker for the Wildcats, has maintained he had no knowledge of the hazing. Fitzgerald said after being fired that he was working with his agent, Bryan Harlan, and his lawyer, Dan Webb, to "protect my rights in accordance with the law."

Northwestern's first game this season is on Sept. 3 against Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.