A former Northwestern University football player accused team members of hazing him for being Latino almost 20 years later.

During a press conference in Chicago this Wednesday, Ramón Díaz explained he was 17 when senior teammates shaved ‘Cinco de Mayo’ on the back of his head. Meanwhile, the entire team watched and didn’t stop this from happening.

“The holiday itself has a significant meaning to me and my family and then the Latino community at large,” he told AP. “I was mocked and ridiculed,” he added.

According to Diaz, now a licensed clinical therapist pursuing a PhD in neuropsychology, coaches and athletes engaged in racist comments that encouraged the targeting and bullying of athletes of color. 

“I just remember the laughter. No one stopped it. And the players felt enabled because of the atmosphere created by the coaches,” he said.

Diaz discussed the toll hazing and toxic behavior takes on the mental and emotional well-being of athletes

Now 36, the former football player revealed he started seeing a therapist because of his depression and attempted suicide.

“The abuse is increasing, and the behaviors are becoming more, more severe towards the athletes. Unless the university and the National Collegiate Athletic Association address the mechanisms enabling a damaging culture, nothing will change,” he added.

Diaz, who relied on his football scholarship to fund his college education, revealed that his passion for this sport vanished entirely, stating: “I have not watched a full football game since I graduated from Northwestern University. Something was taken from me.”

The scandal has more layers, with other players reporting hazing incidents and inappropriate sexual conduct

According to Daily Northwestern, other students came forward, talking about an inappropriate hazing traditions that implied forced sexual acts. Adding that the head coach, Pat Fitzgerald, allegedly knew and encouraged this behavior.

The athletes disclosed a practice known as “running” in the report, which punishes team members, especially first-year students, for errors during games or training.

If the group selected someone, they would restrain that person using “Purge-like” masks and then start “dry-humping” the victim in the locker room. 

Following allegations, the university fired Fitzgerald after 17 seasons leading the team. However, he maintained he didn’t know about the hazing.

Fitzgerald’s lawyers stated he followed protocols to prevent hazing, and the team knew he did not support such behavior, but encouraged to report any incidents.

Meanwhile, a letter is circulating on social media, signed by the entire Northwestern Football Team expressing support for Fitzgerald, highlighting he always prioritized the well-being and growth of his players.

Moreover, Diaz recalled an episode with Bret Ingalls, the Wildcats’ offensive line coach. He assures he told him, “I know you grew up on dirt floors, but here we try to keep things clean,” and “Ramon, you can get a job easily in summer mowing the lawn or painting houses.”

In an emailed statement, Ingalls, the current analyst for the University of Michigan’s football team, labeled those allegations “baseless accusations.”

Northwestern announced that it is investigating allegations against Matt MacPherson, who still holds the position of associate head football coach on the roster.

At least four former players, including Diaz, accuse MacPherson of witnessing incidents where players had to perform pull-ups while naked in front of the team, as well as other hazing.