Basketball player sues NCAA, Northwestern over transfer

Keywords NCAA / Sports Business
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A Northwestern University basketball player is suing the school and the NCAA in federal court, claiming the association's transfer regulations violate antitrust laws.

In the federal lawsuit filed Monday, John Vassar said Northwestern harassed him and made other efforts to force his transfer and take away his athletic scholarship. Vasser's lawsuit is seeking class-action status and wants the Indianapolis-based NCAA to change rules that prevent players from transferring to other Division I schools without losing sitting out for a year.

Vasser said he received offers but only if he could play right away, which he couldn't due to NCAA rules.

Vassar's attorney, Steve Berman, called the current NCAA transfer rules a "destructive double standard," saying that students who aren't athletes are eligible for new scholarships when they transfer without waiting a year. Berman said coaches often transfer schools with pay raises.

"The NCAA needs to level the playing field for these thousands of kids who face undue punishment under its senseless bylaws," he said.

Northwestern Vice President for University Relations Al Cubbage said the school doesn't believe Vassar's lawsuit has legal merit.

"We will defend the university vigorously," Cubbage said in a statement Tuesday. The NCAA didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

This isn't the first lawsuit against the Indianapolis-based NCAA alleging it violates antitrust laws by forcing non-graduate players in sports including football and basketball to sit out a year after transferring schools. Former Weber State football player Devin Pugh sued in November 2015 and former Northern Illinois punter Peter Deppe sued in March. Both said the NCAA's transfer rules violate federal antitrust laws.

In August 2015, the National Labor Relations Board blocked a historic bid by Northwestern football players to become the first in the nation to unionize. The board said the prospect of union and nonunion teams in college could lead to different standards at different schools.

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