Northwestern University President Michael Schill defended the school’s student athletes Monday, saying the vast majority “are people of character who do amazing things.”

“While there is no doubt in my mind that shameful events did take place in the football program,” Schill said in a statement, the broad media condemnation of the athletic program “is entirely inconsistent with the Northwestern we all know and love.”

Related: Two more suits filed in NU hazing scandal

Schill noted that nine Northwestern teams earned a perfect Academic Progress Rate score in the latest data released by the NCAA. No other Big Ten school, he said, did as well.

And, he added, NU’s 98% graduation success rate for athletes leads the Big Ten and ranks among the top 10 among all universities in the nation.

“I am committed to supporting our student-athletes and to re-building any damage our athletic program may have experienced,” Schill said.

That effort, he said, includes:

  • Thoroughly investigating any instance or allegation of hazing or mistreatment.
  • Creating processes and safeguards so that what happened in football can never happen again at Northwestern, and
  • Celebrating, defending and caring for both students and staff who are unfairly implicated by a broad brush

As student athletes prepare to return for the fall term, Schill said they should know they “are loved by thousands and thousands of Wildcat alumni, faculty, staff and administrators, many of whom have reached out over the past three weeks to show support.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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