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Former High School Basketball Player Sues in Federal Court After Being Cut From Team

He claims school violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

by
Paula Bolyard

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August 29, 2014 - 3:57 pm
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A former Ohio high school basketball player is suing his high school, the athletic director, the school’s principal, and his former basketball coach, alleging they violated his First Amendment right of free speech and his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process, resulting in a “loss of liberty” when he was cut from the team.

The suit was originally filed in Medina County Common Pleas Court  [read the complaint here] by Chase Johanson, who graduated from the school  in 2013 and is currently on the track team at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The case was transferred to the U.S. District Court Aug. 27 at the request of the defendants, who said the lawsuit belongs in federal court because the claims involve constitutional issues.

Johanson, who says in an online profile that he was a 6′ 7″ power forward for Medina High School and “my father played basketball at the University of Tennessee,” claims the problems at the school began in December of 2010 during his sophomore year when there was a conflict between a school-sponsored musical performance (in which Johanson participated) and a basketball game. “Following the code of conduct for the school, when such a conflict arises, there was an agreement that he could participate in the musical performance with no clarification of penalty,” the complaint explains.

But Johanson claims that he was forced to sit on the bench for half of the next basketball game as a result of his choosing to attend the musical performance, which ultimately led to two years of conflicts and meetings between Johanson, his mother, the athletic staff, and school administrators. Coaches claim that Johanson’s lackluster athletic performance and bad attitude didn’t warrant being rewarded with much playing time, while Johanson and his mother say that he was being unfairly targeted and punished by a coach who didn’t like him.

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Top Rated Comments   
Disparaging tweets about the very team you are on? That causes a morale issue for the team, smart-boy. Try that in a military unit like a squad or watch section and see what it gets you!

He has a scholarship, is obviously gifted, and yet he is taking the time to snivel about being benched? His female equivalent is the kind who bursts into tears when she discovers the collar on her new mink coat doesn't lay just-so, or the child who whines about his fried potatoes being the wrong shape.

Suck it up, kid. The world isn't your oyster.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
My, my, my.

I clashed with my high school basketball coach also. Sometimes he was right and sometimes he was wrong. But he was the one in charge. The only thing he did was have me run suicides until I puked. I never brought my mommy over to have a talk with the coach.

Dear Mr. Johanson: the lesson of high school is to learn that life is unfair, even for the gifted. So you thought you were a BMOC in high school?
The world is full of talented people who peaked at 17.
Get on with your life. And $75K for hurt feelings? Boo freakedy hoo. Just wait until you fill out a job app someplace, and the HR department Googles your name.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Okay, he's a whiner and complainer, and his parents obviously enable this behavior.

I suggest the track team at the University of North Carolina find a way to lose this loser, before he decides to make them his next target.


Say, any bets on how many future job possibilities he's already lost because of this suit?

16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (25)
All Comments   (25)
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A lot of these problems with high school sports would end if we ended high school sports. Academics should be the focus in schools, but as we see here, extracurruicular athletics absorb too much time and too many resources.

Leagues totally independent pf public schools, similar to today's Little League baseball for the younger crowd, should replace high school sports. Parents can foot the bill directly instead of the taxpayers as a whole as is the case now with extracurricular sports. Universities and the pros can recruit just as well from such leagues.

Then the best students can play to their heart's content, enforced by parents who are the ones actually subsidizing the teams, and we don't have problems with tweeting crybabies wanting to sue the school over allegations of rights violations.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
spoiled child. sorry I have very little sympathy anymore for such actions
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Doesn't he have to prove some actual damages other than to his feelings?
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow. Now they tell me. I wish I knew about this when I was in high school. I was cut from the basketball team too. I wasn't very good and was a rebellious teenager (I refused to cut my long hair.), but heck maybe I could have sued them and made some bucks.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
The kid is standing on his principles. Good on him. He isn't whining or being childish and if he were my son I would be proud that he was trying to make someone else's life better by bringing a poor coach and school admin up to par.

A morale issue on a losing team? Those tweets were the least of that team's problems... seriously.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
"He isn't whining or being childish"

I take it you didn't read the Tweets he sent out?

Or should I say, "whined out"?

16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
" . by bringing a poor coach and school admin up to par. "

And you know this how? Because he said so? Even if true, there are a lot of battles to fight in life and this ain't one of them.

And I agree with other comments below - your son would be destined for a government or public service job because in the age of Google, no private company will touch him.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Disparaging tweets about the very team you are on? That causes a morale issue for the team, smart-boy. Try that in a military unit like a squad or watch section and see what it gets you!

He has a scholarship, is obviously gifted, and yet he is taking the time to snivel about being benched? His female equivalent is the kind who bursts into tears when she discovers the collar on her new mink coat doesn't lay just-so, or the child who whines about his fried potatoes being the wrong shape.

Suck it up, kid. The world isn't your oyster.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
His female equivalent would be Sandra Fluke.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
The bottom line is the modern coach needs to make rules about social media. If the rule is broken the player will suffer the consequences. When a coach is developing a team to play as one, the player that does not understand this needs to go.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, the coach does not need to make rules about social media. The rules of decent conduct do not need to be spelling out in intricate lawyerese for every possible situiaion and technology.



16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rules: Don't embarrass your team, don't embarrass your school and don't embarrass yourself.

Nothing about lawyering up markv
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is busy-busy-busy "activism" ad nauseam.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
My, my, my.

I clashed with my high school basketball coach also. Sometimes he was right and sometimes he was wrong. But he was the one in charge. The only thing he did was have me run suicides until I puked. I never brought my mommy over to have a talk with the coach.

Dear Mr. Johanson: the lesson of high school is to learn that life is unfair, even for the gifted. So you thought you were a BMOC in high school?
The world is full of talented people who peaked at 17.
Get on with your life. And $75K for hurt feelings? Boo freakedy hoo. Just wait until you fill out a job app someplace, and the HR department Googles your name.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
OK....

Your answer is absolutely valid in a normal world. Makes sense; Pretty straightforward.

But let us suppose Johanson was black.

Then let us suppose he has the same complaints.

Then let us suppose every one of his legal targets is white.

Not too hard to figure out how that would end. Jesse Sharpton, Inc and the NAACP would be all over it like a paintjob, to say nothing of the ACLU and several other alphabet-soup entities.

It's a sad and pathetic testimony that Johanson felt slighted because of imagined grievances and that his wonderfulness wasn't fully acknowledged by the world. But like you said, life isn't fair.

Wish the middle-age children of our society had that figured out.

Being angry all your life is a crappy way to spend it.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Spot on. He should have claimed he was discriminated against because of his race. Or he should have claimed he was a Christian acting on "sincerely held religious" beliefs". At least then he'd have got Todd Starnes on his side.

What an abuse of the judicial system.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's a lot of suppose*. But, it is not the case. It is a case of a sniveling brat who didn't get what he wanted, and affected the morale of the team on which he chose to play.

*I almost said it was a lot of suppository statements, but that would have been bad on my part. :-{)}}
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
The suppositions on my part were simply to extrapolate a possibility, knowing full well that "such is not the case".

But to be fully frank, it's not that much of a stretch.

Here we have a sniveling whiner who will get struck down in court. That's as it should be. Anyone can sue anyone else in this country, which is the nasty but real side of our judicial system. It may be a "necessary evil" even.

However, I was simply postulating that in today's PC climate, he lacks the wrong skin coloration to think about winning in court. As others have suggested, me might claim religious persecution. It would be even funnier if he grew a rat's nest of a beard, changed his name to muhammed muhammed and then claimed it.

However, the courts, partially out of fear and partially out of the "need" to be PC, would award him millions.

Clearly he hasn't thought this out.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
This case reminds me in some respects of one I heard about 20-odd years ago. A son, whose parents were physically attractive, intelligent and successful, sued them because he was unattractive, not very bright and something of a loser. The court dismissed the case.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
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