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Northwestern, NCAA file motions to dismiss Vassar lawsuit

Northwestern has asked a federal judge to dismiss Vassar’s allegations.

Northwestern v Indiana Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Northwestern and NCAA have filed motions asking a federal judge on Tuesday to dismiss the lawsuit filed by former Northwestern basketball player Johnnie Vassar.

Vassar filed a class-action lawsuit against the university alleging that the NCAA transfer rules intimidated him into transferring to another school. Vassar also alleged that Northwestern put him through a “campaign of harassment, pressure, and deception” to force him to relinquish his scholarship. Vassar alleged that this campaign included falsifying timecards, requiring him to do menial tasks and a potential cash payment.

The motion to dismiss avoided addressing many of Vassar’s specific grievances. Northwestern argued that Vassar’s scholarship contract was not in effect during the scope of the time of the alleged misconduct and that the benefits he sought after, including athletic training, tutoring and presumably playing with the team, are not in writing with the scholarship contract.

The university also asked the judge to remove allegations of a “cash payment” that improperly described settlement talks between Vassar and Northwestern. Northwestern argued that including the settlement talks in the lawsuit would “prejudice” the university.

The NCAA’s motion did not address Vassar’s allegations and merely defended its right to defend the transfer rule.

To refresh your memory, although Vassar announced his intention to transfer on March 30, 2015, he was unable to find a school that would accept him to play basketball if he was not eligible to play right away. Thus, he remained at Northwestern, and on scholarship.

The original lawsuit 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 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.”