After four years at Northwestern, Johnnie Vassar’s basketball career is still alive.
Vassar, who is currently suing both Northwestern and the NCAA as part of an antitrust lawsuit, will transfer to Tennessee Tech as a grad-transfer.
According to the program release, Vassar is eligible immediately and has two years of eligibility remaining. Tennessee Tech finished 19-14 last season and fifth in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Vassar last played for Northwestern in 2014-2015 as a true freshman, appearing in 18 of 32 games and averaging just 3.9 minutes played per game. A Chicago native, Vassar came to Evanston as part of the talented 2014 recruiting that featured Bryant McIntosh, Vic Law, Scottie Lindsey and Gavin Skelly. That class, of course, took Northwestern to its first-ever NCAA Tournament.
Vassar didn’t get that experience though — not even close.
After playing sparingly as a freshman in 2014-2015, Vassar announced his intention to transfer in 2015, thanking the coaching staff. Vassar sought to get an NCAA waiver to play immediately upon transferring, but was denied in these efforts. With no offers from academic programs he considered suitable or comparable to Northwestern’s, he opted to stay at Northwestern and complete his degree. Importantly, he was still on scholarship.
In November 2016, Vassar sued Northwestern and the NCAA, alleging “a campaign of harassment, pressure, and deception” by Collins and other members of the program to try to get Vassar to transfer or relinquish his scholarship to allow the coaching staff to use the scholarship to pursue another player. Eventually, Vassar’s scholarship was transferred from athletic grant-in-aid to an academic scholarship.
Several months later, Inside NU co-founder Kevin Trahan published a piece for Vice Sports in which Vassar detailed the circumstances that led to the end of his athletic scholarship. The story includes the falsification of timecards, accounts of Collins berating Vassar and claims of Northwestern offering Vassar a cash payment to forfeit his scholarship.
At the moment, Vassar’s lawsuit is still pending, and the school and program admit no wrongdoing.