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David Braun elevated to interim coach at Northwestern, AP source says

Vrbo Citrus Bowl - Auburn v Northwestern

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 01: General view of a Northwestern Wildcats helmet during the second quarter against the Auburn Tigers during the Vrbo Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium on January 1, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

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David Braun has been elevated from defensive coordinator to interim coach at Northwestern for the upcoming season, replacing Pat Fitzgerald, who was fired this week due to a hazing scandal, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Braun’s promotion to interim coach had not been announced.

Braun was hired as the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator six months ago. He spent the previous four seasons in the same position at North Dakota State, where he helped lead the Bison to FCS national championships in 2019 and 2021.

Fitzgerald was fired Monday 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,” Northwestern President Michael Schill wrote.

Fitzgerald, who led Northwestern for 17 seasons, has maintained he had no knowledge of the hazing. After Northwestern initially suspended but did not fire him, The Daily Northwestern published an article including allegations from a former player who described specific instances of hazing and abuse and suggested Fitzgerald may have been aware.

The elevation of Braun puts the program in the hands of someone who never shared the sideline with Fitzgerald during a game and was not part of the culture established by the longtime coach. The rest of Fitzgerald’s assistant coaches and support staff will remain in their jobs for 2023, the university has said.