Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre’s charity, Favre 4 Hope, donated more than $130,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation from 2018 to 2020, according to tax records obtained by ESPN on Wednesday.
During the same period, Favre was trying to raise money for a new volleyball stadium at the university, where he played soccer and his daughter was on the volleyball team. Funds for that stadium are under investigation in the largest public fraud case in Mississippi state history.
Favre 4 Hope, whose mission statement says it provides support “for underprivileged and disabled children and breast cancer patients,” receives public donations. Tax records show that in 2018 the foundation gave the USM Athletic Foundation $60,000. Every other organization received $10,000. In 2019, the USM Athletic Foundation received $46,817. The next highest donation, to the Mississippi Special Olympics, was $11,000. The following year, Favre 4 Hope donated $26,175 to the USM Athletic Foundation, while no other organization received more than $10,000.
Between 2011 and 2017, the year his daughter enrolled at USM, Favre 4 Hope gave the Athletic Foundation a total of $47,900. (Tax records were not available for 2016.) In 2015, when Favre’s daughter played volleyball at Oak Grove High School, his foundation gave the school’s booster club $60,000, tax records show. In 2013, the booster club received $10,000 from Favre 4 Hope.
“He’s been very generous to Southern Miss since he played there,” Favre’s attorney Bud Holmes told ESPN on Wednesday night. “Those Specific Things” [the donations in question] I don’t know, but I know he’s always given back, something most athletes don’t.”
The Athletic first reported Favre’s charitable donations to the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation.
Favre, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is involved in an extensive investigation into Mississippi’s social spending. He received $1.1 million in speaking fees for appearances he allegedly never made, according to a state auditor. He said he didn’t know where the money came from and paid the money back, although the state is still demanding $228,000 in interest. Text messages show that Favre was also involved in diverting at least $5 million in welfare funds to the volleyball stadium.
Favre has not been criminally charged. His attorney previously denied to Mississippi Today that the Hall of Famer knew he was receiving social funds.