Before Brett Favre reportedly transferred $5 million in Mississippi social funds to build a new volleyball facility in Southern Miss — his alma mater and where his daughter played the sport — his “underprivileged kids” nonprofit helped build a new one. volleyball facility at her top-performing high school, The Daily Beast has taught.
His charity also donated more than $130,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi athletic club between 2018 and 2020, records show, as he worked to build a volleyball facility there — apparently with state welfare funds.
The 52-year-old retired quarterback is embroiled in the largest public corruption scandal ever in his home state, a scandal in which $77 million intended for Mississippi’s most deprived residents was allegedly funneled into pet projects and personal expenses for friends and family. officials with the Department of Human Services (DHS) and alleged non-profit organizations receiving the money. Beneficiaries of the scheme include Favre, three former professional wrestlers, and the residence and horse ranch of a one-time college football star.
The ex-Green Bay Packer has not been charged with any crime. But he and several other parties are facing a civil suit from DHS, which is seeking to recover the wasted millions belonging to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
According to the complaint, Favre also persuaded the nonprofit Mississippi Community Education Center, a DHS sub-grant that received tens of millions in federal money, to invest $2.1 million in biotech company Prevacus and a corporate affiliate, of which Favre was a major lender. . This center also paid Favre $1.1 million for motivational speeches he never gave. (Favre refunded the state for the fees, although it is reportedly still owed $228,000 in interest.)
Favre’s attorney, Bud Holmes, has said the NFL legend was unaware that he had received money from the federal welfare program. He recently told: Insider that his client “has been honorable from day one” and “has done so much charitable work — and that was all here.”
However, this latest scandal involving Favre has sparked a public outcry that has led to Sirius XM putting its show on time and ESPN Milwaukee to stop its weekly radio appearances, heat on Twitter, including from former teammates And his biographerand a Change.org petition from a “lifelong Green Bay Packers fan” to have him removed from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The outrage over the brewing may come as no surprise to some Hattiesburg residents who helped launch another Favre passion project: a $1.4 million volleyball facility for Oak Grove High School in 2015.
In January of that year, the municipal newspaper published the Lamar Times reported Brett and Deanna Favre have been advocating for the gym since their daughter Breleigh was a sophomore and avid volleyball player there. “They reached out to Mike Rozier, a local builder, and it really grew from there,” the then school district superintendent told the outlet, adding, “Currently, nine teams are using the OGHS gym. this facility.”
A review of nonprofit tax records reveals that Favre’s foundation, Favre4Hope, sent $60,000 to the suburban Oak Grove booster club, one of the state’s top-rated high schools. The donation stood out among his group’s regular beneficiaries, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Special Olympics, cancer charity the Pink Ribbon Fund, and Hope Haven, which serves abused and neglected children in Mississippi.
But nearly two years after Oak Grove’s new Lady Warriors stadium was built, contractor Mike Rozier Construction filed a lawsuit against the boosters, known as the Warrior Club, claiming the group still owed them $328,000. Although Favre was not listed as a defendant, he was named in a letter from the contractor’s attorney accompanying the civil complaint.
The attorney addressed the letter requesting payment to the school district director, the booster club president and Favre and his company Favre Enterprises. “Rozier completed construction of the volleyball facility with assurances from the Oak Grove Warrior Booster Club and Mr. Favre that Rozier would be paid,” the November 2016 letter reads.
“In addition to the Warrior Booster Club and Mr. Favre, the school district has greatly benefited from the volleyball facility,” the letter continues, adding, “Rozier has acted in good faith throughout this project. It is time that the parties to whom this letter is directed, pay Rozier or at least develop a plan for it.”
In an affidavit filed in the case, the company’s vice president, Michael Rozier, said that “the Warrior Club was impersonating and acting as the owner of the volleyball facility. The Warrior Club representatives were Brett and Deanna Favre.”
Rozier says that in April 2015 he received an unsigned copy of a memorandum of understanding between the booster club and the construction company “outlining the parties’ relationship in relation to the construction of the volleyball facility”, but that the company ” terms of the proposed MOU” and “refused to sign.” The company “has never agreed to be bound by the terms and conditions of the MOU,” he adds.
A judge later ruled in favor of the booster club after finding that no written or implied contract existed between the club and the construction company.
Rozier Construction did not return any messages requesting comment.
But one person with knowledge of the situation told The Daily Beast that the legal scuffle in a small town had a bad repercussion on Favre. “He’s a snake,” said the person, who wished to remain anonymous. “It’s just another example of character.”
The source said Favre wanted to “build an indoor facility” and was raising funds to do so and instructing his entities to donate money, including at least $50,000 from his foundation.
“Basically, the contractor was still owed fees at the end,” the person added. “And Brett was friends with him, and Brett wouldn’t pay it, tried to deny it.”
“It was a shitty situation and wrong,” they said furiously.
According to the source, Michael Rozier’s daughter also played volleyball at Oak Grove, which is how his construction company probably got involved in the project.
At the time, the person said, Favre would star in commercials for Farm Bureau insurance and the company would send its payments to the booster club for the facility.
“It was 100 percent something Brett wanted,” said the source, noting that Favre was also briefly offensive coordinator for the Oak Grove High football team. “But he also did a lot for that community. He was loved there. He’s like some kind of god.”
“But it’s like there were some kinks in his armor when he did, trying to stiffen the contractor and the boosters. I would say that probably left a bad taste.”
Sean Little, vice president of the booster club, told The Daily Beast: “The Warrior Club’s official response is no comment.” When asked about Rozier’s lawsuit, Little said, “That’s in our past and we have no comment.”
Mitch Brent, a former Warrior Club director, said he was angry that the media attacked Favre. “If you’re interested in finding more dirt, I’m not interested in talking to you,” he told a Daily Beast reporter. “You just said he donated $60,000 to the booster club, and frankly that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the good things he’s done. But he only gets publicity for the bad stuff, and I don’t think that’s fair.” When asked why Rozier had sued the booster club for non-payment, Brent said: “That was between him and Brett, I don’t know.”
In a 2020 interview with the AP, Favre said he had raised money for volleyball centers at the University of Southern Mississippi and Oak Grove High.
“We wanted to do something for a high school and (Southern Miss),” Favre said. “We built one at Oak Grove High School (in Hattiesburg, where Favre did some football coaching). And for Southern Miss, that was hard – it’s hard to get people to donate to volleyball. But we will open an $8 million facility that will be as good as any in the country in Southern Mississippi.”
Favre, who made about $140 million as a star NFL player for over two decades, added that he was proud of his charitable efforts through Favre4Hope.
“It would be a shame if people who can help don’t help,” Favre said. “We are certainly not perfect, but we do try to give something back.”
Local non-profit news channel Mississippi today was the first to publish text messages that opened the curtain on the welfare scandal, revealing that Favre and former Governor Phil Bryant were working with Mississippi Community Education Center founder Nancy New to secure funding for the volleyball stadium. “Nancy Santa came today and brought some money,” Favre texted New in December 2017, “thank you, my god, thank you. We need to set the promo for you soon. Your way of being nice [sic].”
In April, New and her son Zach pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the fraud scheme and agreed to testify against their co-defendants. Mississippi today reported. And last week, John Davis, the former director of the Missouri Department of Human Services, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to extort millions in federal funds from the state.
Favre had previously expressed concerns that the funding route would become public.
“If you paid me,” he texted New, “is there any way the media can find out where it came from and how much?”