Former college football player claims there was a racist environment on the show

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Two more former Northwestern football players came forward at a press conference Friday morning to describe their experiences with systemic racism in NU’s football program.

The two met at Salvi Law Offices, Sjostock Law Offices, and Pritchard Law Offices, which represent more than 50 current and former NU athletes (mostly football players) and seven He said he is filing a lawsuit.

Noah Heron Former NU player Rico Lamitte (formerly Rico Tarver) spoke about the racism and prejudice he experienced during his time with the team. Both men talked about the “Wildcat Way,” the NU football coach’s standards that are said to be racist. Held for athletes.

Both players’ college tenures predate Pat Fitzgerald’s arrival as head coach, but they echoed the suspicions. Former players shared this summer Racist actions and comments from both coaches and players.

“Northwestern required me and my teammates of color to follow this Wildcat Way, a white look,” Herron said. “As a young black man, I was proud of my braided hair. Many of my black teammates were proud of their race and culture, and expressed themselves through their hair. … My black teammates and I were told we needed to cut or restyle our hair to resemble this Wildcat Way.”

Herron claimed that he and other black players were threatened with reduced playing time, forfeited scholarships and possible transfers.

He said the coaches punished two black teammates so harshly that the players called it the “Christmas Massacre.” Herron claimed that the head coach instructed his position coach to punish the two black players so that they could not leave the field afterward.

“The corporal punishment was so severe that one of his adult siblings had to defecate and take him off the field,” Herron said. “[There is]a culture of intimidation, abuse, coercion, forced compliance, the Wildcat Way of compliance.”

Ramit echoed Herron’s comments, saying that while he still “bleeds purple,” he felt a responsibility to speak out as a black man, black husband, black father, and former black athlete. Ta.

“At Northwestern, I was never seen as a Black person first and an athlete second,” Ramit said. “That was made clear when my teammate and brother, Rashidi Wheeler, a black man, died a few feet away from me during a conditioning drill. The entire incident was handled inappropriately and I want to thank our team for that.” Not being given space for closure or proper restoration set the tone for what I would experience over the next four and a half years.”

Wheeler died in 2001 after collapsing during conditioning training. His autopsy report said the cause of his death was exercise-induced asthma after participating in conditioning drills prohibited by the NCAA. Wheeler’s family sued NU, ultimately settling the case for $16 million in 2005.

Lamitte claimed he was intimidated and forced to follow the “wildcat way,” a culture he said had no room or tolerance for him as a black man. He said he was threatened, harassed, teased, humiliated and abused while resisting following the “Wildcat Way.”

Lamitte echoed Herron’s sentiments, with an anonymous player claiming in July that he was forced to cut his hair to fit in with the team’s white culture.

“My coaches, trainers and staff told me I needed to change my clothes, my behavior and my hair,” he said. “When I was a freshman, I was told I couldn’t play unless I cut my hair. If I didn’t cut it myself, the coaches would hold me down and tell the upperclassmen to shave it off.”

Lamitte said he ultimately cut his hair to avoid humiliation and embarrassment, but claims his white teammates were allowed to grow their hair long and let it hang from their helmets.

Attorney Patrick Salvi Jr. concluded the conference by expressing support for current and former NU athletes. He added that his team is seeking culture change and compensation, but there is not much he can share yet about the progress of the case.

“We commend the courage of Noah, Rico and everyone who has come forward to stand behind us. We would like to offer our support to anyone with such concerns if we can. .We also want to be able to come forward and affect change,” Salvi said.

Alex Cervantes contributed reporting.

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twitter: @avanidkalra

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