Johnnie Vasser files antitrust lawsuit against Northwestern, NCAA over transfer rules

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Former Northwestern guard Johnnie Vassar has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Northwestern and the NCAA, claiming that the NCAA’s transfer rules are in violation of federal antitrust laws.

Included in the lawsuit is an allegation the Northwestern coaching staff tried to ‘run him off’, a practice of making life miserable enough for a player that he opts to transfer out of the program. It’s done to free up a scholarship. Division I college programs are limited to offering 13 scholarship.

Vassar played for the Wildcats during the 2014-15 season and tallied 70 total minutes, scoring 15 points in his career. His suit was filed on Nov. 14, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The suit wants to change the NCAA’s rules that force players to sit out a season after transferring instead of allowing them to immediately play without losing athletic eligibility.

“In a competitive market free of the NCAA and its members restraint, these athletes would be allowed to transfer without restriction, particularly where, as in this case, their current coach no longer wants their services and ‘runs them off,’” the complaint said.

Vassar’s claims against Northwestern about trying to be run off are also included in the complaint. Vassar is claiming that Northwestern didn’t want him on scholarship so they tried to get him to sign a blank “Roster Deletion” form where he would voluntarily withdraw from the team. Vassar says he was also told by the staff to transfer.

Among the claims Vassar makes is he was placed in a team-induced internship where he worked as a janitor instead of being able to play with teammates. The lawsuit also claims that Northwestern falsified timecards to try to create misconduct so they could take away Vassar’s scholarship.