A football coach and five team members at Wheaton College have been accused in a lawsuit by their former teammate of condoning and covering up violent hazing that ultimately left him severely injured. Student and former Wheaton College football team member Charles Nagy is alleging that he endured severe hazing including physical violence and threats of sexual violence, and that hazing is a common practice on the Wheaton College football team.
Now 21, Nagy withdrew from the team after the attack in 2016, and has accused five football team members of abducting him from his dorm in March of 2016 and then beating him with pillowcases covering his face. He has two shoulder injuries that he claims he received that night, which required multiple surgeries and have ultimately ended his football career.
The five team members have been indited and plead not guilty. According to evidence from the case, there are several text messages from the team members urging Nagy to return to school and “work it out.” Wheaton’s coach, Mike Swider is accused of advising the boys to reach out to Nagy and strategizing with them to cover up the hazing incident.
The college has denied the allegations that hazing was ignored and allowed to continue with university staff’s knowledge. In a statement released to the Daily Herald, Wheaton College officials said, “We take the allegation that any member of our community has been mistreated in any way to be a matter of grave concern. We strongly deny that the college has allowed a permissive environment of hazing or violence, and are confident that it will not be found to have legal responsibility.”
However, the suit calls it an “open secret” that hazing goes on within the football team and traditions are passed down from each class, and also claims that Coach Swider met with the five players the day after the incident and tried to cover up the incident and blame Nagy.
While there have been efforts to stop and end hazing on college campuses across the nation, incidents like this show that the harmful practice is still alive and well in some places.