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Northwestern issues full statement regarding Johnnie Vassar’s lawsuit

The University believes Vassar’s claims are “simply inaccurate”.

NCAA Basketball: Elon at Northwestern Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern has issued a full statement regarding its position on former Northwestern basketball player Johnnie Vassar’s antitrust lawsuit against the University and the NCAA.

“Northwestern believes strongly that the allegations against Northwestern contained in a lawsuit filed by John Vassar are without merit and simply inaccurate. The University will respond to those allegations fully in its filings with the court. In the meantime, however, it is important to note that John Vassar continues to be enrolled as a student at Northwestern.

In regard to the lawsuit’s allegations regarding the NCAA rules regarding students transferring from one school to another, those rules were not created and are not controlled by Northwestern University.”

- Alan Cubbage, Vice President for University Relations

The statement comes one day after Vassar and his attorneys filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Vassar alleges he 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.

Vassar also highlighted his placement in the “Wildcat Internship Program”, which involved him working in a janitorial capacity. He also claimed that Northwestern tried to falsify Vassar’s timesheets during the internship “in an effort to create grounds for revoking [Vassar’s] guaranteed athletic scholarship.”

With this statement, Northwestern has refuted all of Vassar’s claims. After last night’s game against Eastern Washington, Chris Collins said the matter would be dealt with “behind closed doors”. Later that night, Alan Cubbage told Inside NU: “We do not believe this claim has any legal merit. We will defend the University vigorously.”

The University has therefore doubled down on its claims, as it is now claiming Vassar’s entire story is “simply inaccurate”. Pointedly, Northwestern has also decided to make note of its irrelevance in the field of NCAA transfer laws, another key element of Vassar’s case. The statement, while not a surprise, hints that a major legal battle could be forthcoming. Despite this, Northwestern also confirmed that Vassar continues to be a student at the University.