Howard basketball is gearing up for another season on the court, but some of the program’s former players are taking the school and its coach to court.
Howard and basketball coach Kevin Nickelberry are being sued by two former players, accused of verbal and emotional abuse along with exceeding NCAA practice limits, misrepresenting their scholarship funding and forcing them to play through injuries that cost them a shot at playing pro basketball, possibly in the NCAA.
Ausar Madison and Kai Tease, both former Bison players, filed a lawsuit against their former coach seeking approximately $9 million in damages, according to the Washington Post.
According to the lawsuit, in the summer of 2013, Nickelberry “guaranteed” Madison “a perpetual scholarship” set to begin in the 2014-15 season but reneged on his promise three separate times, each time assuring Madison he would receive a scholarship beginning the following year. Madison, who is in his fifth year at Howard, left the basketball program in January 2017 and “has never received any funds from an athletic scholarship.”
Tease signed with Howard in 2015, with the understanding that he would get academic help for his learning disability, subsidized by Howard. He says that never happened before he left the team last December.
Both players accuse Nickelberry of making them play through a Jones fracture with the threat of public shame if they did not.
The most interesting accusation waged against Nickelberry and the program is that the coach forcing the players to play through these injuries cost them a shot at playing pro ball.
Howard spokeswoman Crystal Brown issued a response to the litigation.
“As a member of the NCAA and MEAC Conference, Howard University is committed to complying with all NCAA and conference rules,” Brown said.
“Howard University Athletics considers the physical and mental well-being, as well as the academic success of its student-athletes its top priorities. We maintain a rigorous NCAA compliance program that is consistent with other Division I schools, we closely monitor all NCAA interscholastic sports programs and report any known or discovered violations of NCAA rules. While the University does not comment on pending litigation, we can confirm that we plan to vigorously defend the allegations in this complaint.”