It was revealed Monday that former Northwestern point guard Johnnie Vasser has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the school, after he claims he was forced by out by members of the program.

According to the suit — which was filed in a district court in northern Illinois — Vasser claims the school used NCAA transfer rules into intimidating the former Wildcat to leave the team and open up a scholarship.

Here is what Vasser claims the school and basketball program did to him:

The complaint, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleges Vassar was “berated” by Northwestern staff, including head basketball coach Chris Collins, and was put “through a campaign of harassment, pressure, and deception,” leading to his eventual transfer.


The suit describes a variety of measures the program and athletic department used to free up Vassar’s scholarship, which was eventually transferred from athletic grant-in-aid to an academic scholarship. The University, the complaint alleges, went so far as to offer Vassar a cash payment in March of 2016 so he would “go away.”

The suit also alleges that Northwestern placed the three-star recruit in an “internship” so he could retain his athletic scholarship. The program, called the “Wildcat Internship Program” involved him working in a janitorial capacity. It also claims that Northwestern tried to falsify Vassar’s timesheets during the internship “in an effort to create grounds for revoking [Vassar’s] guaranteed athletic scholarship.”

The suit also attacks the NCAA and its transfer rules and is part of a larger lawsuit put forth by Hagens Berman against the NCAA in 2012.

Though the school allegedly wanted Vassar to leave the program, the NCAA would not let him transfer and play right away. Thus, Vassar had to stay at the school and eventually ended up leaving the team.

This is the first time the basketball program has faced legal action under head coach Chris Collins. But it’s not the first time a player has complained about the program after leaving:

Since Collins took over Northwestern’s basketball program in the spring of 2013, multiple players have transferred or left the program. In December of that year, big man Mike Turner would officially exit the program after taking a leave of absence in September. Just a matter of weeks later in January of 2014, center Chier Ajou would transfer.

Following that season, forward Kale Abrahamson would transfer as well. During that one year under Collins, he developed a rocky relationship with his head coach, he told Inside NU.

And, along with Abrahamson, former walk-on Aaron Liberman left the program that spring. He has since signed a non-disclosure agreement with Northwestern, keeping him from divulging any details of what went on during his time under Collins.

Then, during the 2014-15 season, walk-on Nick Segura left the program before the season finished. He later told Inside NU, “Sometimes the coaching staff would make me feel like I wasn’t part of the team.”

The Wildcats were in action Monday, defeating Eastern Washington to improve to 2-0 on the season. With these allegations coming before the game finished, Collins was asked about the lawsuit after Monday’s game. He wouldn’t comment on the matter and said it would be handled “behind closed doors”.

With this claim early in the legal process, it seems definitely possible we will get a further look into this case and see whether these allegations are true. For how severe they are, it seems entirely possible Collins’ actions could cost him his job.

[Inside NU; Photo Credit: Wildcat Digest]

About Ryan Williamson

Ryan is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri and has recently returned to his Minnesota roots. He previously has worked for the Columbia Missourian, KFAN radio in Minneapolis and Feel free to email me at rwilliamson29 AT Gmail dot com.