Despite Scandal, Northwestern To Go Ahead With New Stadium Construction

Northwestern Wildcats football

Getty Image / Michael Reaves

Northwestern Athletics looks a lot different from it did a few months ago. But, the university announced that they plan to go ahead with building a new Ryan Field for the Northwestern Wildcats football team.

This comes on the heels of the Northwestern football hazing schedule that saw all-time winningest coach and university icon Pat Fitzgerald be dismissed from the program. And, it’s started a firestorm that has engulfed all of Northwestern athletics.

Multiple teams, notably the baseball team, have also accusations of hazing come to light, with lawsuits filed. It’s terrible timing, considering the university is negotiating with Evanston City Council for the proper permission to build a new Ryan Field following a massive donation from business magnate and alum Pat Ryan to help build it. The current Ryan Field, which is 97 years old, is one of the worst facilities in the power 5, all things considered.

Some had speculated that Northwestern may not have the political juice following the scandal to get the stadium built. But, on Thursday, university president Michael Schill announced they’re moving forward with the stadium project, despite some opposition from the city council over things like concerts at the stadium and the cloud of the scandal still hanging over them.

I have been asked if recent events have changed our commitment to the Ryan Field project. As you know, and as I have shown through my actions, we are deeply committed to supporting our student-athletes and ensuring their well-being, now and in the future. As I have stated repeatedly, hazing has no place at Northwestern, and I am confident the independent review we have asked former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch to conduct will help us determine how best to ensure our athletics program is accountable and reflects the University’s mission and values as a leading academic institution.

There’s no concrete proposed opening date. But, Ryan did give a $480 million starting gift, which will go a long way. And, the stadium renderings actually look pretty cool.

Northwestern opens up their football season on the road against Rutgers on Sunday, September 3.