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Former Xavier University soccer player sues school over hazing allegations

CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) -- A former Xavier University soccer player has filed suit against the school claiming he was hazed. 

He also claims the university was negligent in the way it handled two concussions he suffered.

Neil Henley was a high school soccer standout in Louisville. He accepted a scholarship to XU in 2012. In a lawsuit filed in Hamilton County, Henley claims his college soccer career started to unravel after he attended a party at a so-called "soccer house" off-campus in February 2013.
"This is no different than a fraternity involved in a hazing episode. This is a known event that happens every year by the soccer team where they call it an initiation," said Brian Goldwasser, Henley's attorney.

Goldwasser said the party was discussed on a Facebook group for the soccer team. Members wrote posts including "we just got a lot of booze" and "make peace with god tonight, freshmen."

One senior wrote, "Member no hazing is done it's a great time! Well except freshmen."

Goldwasser said Henley was coerced into drinking alcohol excessively at the party and he suffered a concussion.

"We've been told from others who were there that he hit his head several times. He fell down a flight of stairs and was knocked unconscious and no one provided any assistance to him. They take him back to his room and it's a day and a half later before he's even aware of where he is," Goldwasser said.

Henley claims that he didn't receive the proper testing following his concussion diagnosis.  He also claims a student interning in the training department cleared him to return to soccer before he was ready.  Henley suffered a second concussion during a game in March 2013.

"Because he was allowed to go back too early, he developed Post-Concussive Syndrome and it's really affected him...Neil has issues with concentration, he has some tremors in his hands," Goldwasser said. He added, "He does have trouble sleeping at times and certainly there's been a change in his personality. He's not as dynamic as he used to be."

Xavier University declined a request for an on camera interview but issued a statement:  "We have reviewed the complaint. The allegations of wrongdoing are unfounded.  The University will provide a vigorous defense."

Goldwasser said he finds it hard to believe that the Xavier's soccer coach, Andy Fleming, didn't know about the initiation at the so-called "soccer house."

"There's certainly sufficient information out there that they either knew or certainly had the ability to know," said Goldwasser.

Neil Henley eventually lost his scholarship at Xavier University because of "performance issues." Goldwasser said Henley has tried to take some courses at the University of Louisville but he hasn't been able to complete them because of his injuries. A specialist is treating him for his brain injury.

Norwood Police investigated the hazing allegations. No charges were filed. A spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office said she could not legally discuss a case in which charges were not filed.

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