Brett Favre continued to push for funding for sports facilities at the University of Southern Mississippi even after former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant warned the use of welfare funds “could result in violation of federal law,” according to court documents filed in a county court on Friday.
Beyond the volleyball court at the college $5 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Favre also pushed for an additional $1.5 million from the federal funds meant to go to extremely low income families in an effort to build an indoor football facility that could help lure Deion Sanders’ son to the school.
“I picked up Deion Sanders and his son who is going to be a junior in high school and plays QB,” Favre said in a text to Bryant in July 2019. “He has at least 30 offers thus far including us. Deion and I have been great friends since 91’ and have great respect for each other.
“As I suspected Deion’s son asked where the indoor facility was and I said [we] don’t have one but [we] are hoping to break ground in less than 2 years. … I know we have the [the volleyball center] to complete first and I’m asking a lot.”
Mississippi is the most impoverished state in the nation, and Sanders is currently the head football coach at Jackson State — an HBCU located in a city with an ongoing water crisis after years of neglect from state lawmakers.
Shedeur Sanders, one of the highest-rated quarterbacks in the nation in his final year of high school, ultimately chose Jackson State.
The funds for the football facility were never issued, although a source with knowledge of the situation told Front Office Sports that the project likely would have been funded had it not been before an investigation by State Auditor Shad White in late 2019.
ESPN was the first outlet to report the filing.
Dozens of texts between Favre and Bryant were included in a filing by Bryant in Hinds County, Mississippi, as part of a lawsuit filed by the Mississippi Department of Human Services (DHS) against two nonprofits and several individuals — including Favre — who were linked to about $77 million in misspent welfare funds.
While Bryant is not a defendant in the case, the purpose of the filing was to oppose Mississippi’s DHS motion to subpoena documents from Bryant.
Favre’s attorney has said his client had no idea the money was earmarked for the impoverished. Favre has not been charged.
The filing references texts first reported in April after Nancy New, the leader of a nonprofit used to funnel welfare funds, pleaded guilty to 13 felonies for her part in the scheme.
“If you were to pay me, is there anyway [sic] the media can find out where it came from and how much?” Favre wrote in a text to New in August 2017.
Favre received $1.1 million from speaking fees for speeches he did not perform. He paid back the $1.1 million, but reportedly still owes around $228,000 in interest.
According to the filing, Favre took on $1 million debt in cost overruns for the volleyball center at Southern Mississippi, a figure that rose to $1.8 million by May 2019.
Mississippi Today reported Favre sought to recoup the money first from John Davis, the former head of Mississippi’s welfare agency who pleaded guilty on Thursday to 20 state and federal charges related to the scheme. As part of the plea deal, Davis will cooperate with prosecutors.
A source with knowledge of the investigation told FOS earlier in the week that Favre remains on the radar of investigators.
In the filing, Bryant’s attorney wrote the former governor “does not contend or imply that Favre violated applicable laws.”