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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Former USM President Targeted for Brett Favre Communications

  • Former University of Southern Mississippi president Rodney Bennett subpoenaed in civil case.
  • Mississippi's welfare department is seeking correspondence over volleyball center.
Brett Favre
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Former University of Southern Mississippi president Rodney Bennett was subpoenaed Friday for communications with alum Brett Favre and others close to the Hall of Fame quarterback. 

In the subpoena obtained by Front Office Sports, the Mississippi Department of Human Services — which sued Favre, the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation, and others in the agency’s effort to recover millions of misspent welfare funds — requested Bennett to turn over electronic communications related to Favre’s efforts to build a volleyball center at the school. 

MDHS alleged in previous filings that Favre entered into a handshake agreement in April 2017 to fund the facility at Southern Miss, where his daughter played the sport at school. Instead, Favre allegedly got the funds from the MDHS despite allegedly knowing the use of the money was “illegal.” 

The money originated from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), federal welfare funds barred from being used for construction.

Favre has denied there was an agreement to fund the volleyball center or that Favre knew that using TANF funds was improper. Favre has not been charged criminally. 

The subpoena seeks communications Bennett had with Favre, his Favre’s wife, Deanna, his friend, Eric “Poncho” James, and former longtime attorney Bud Holmes “related to Brett Favre’s agreement(s) to provide funding for the construction of the volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi,” the subpoena stated. 

In the subpoena, MDHS requested text messages, emails, and other electronic means of communication — like WhatsApp — from January 2017 to the present. Bennett departed Southern Miss in June to become chancellor of the University of Nebraska. 

A message left with Bennett’s attorney was not immediately returned. 

MDHS also requested communications between Bennett and former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, and exchanges that mentioned “the media” and Mississippi Today reporter Anna Wolfe.

Bryant and Bennett are not defendants in the case. 

Favre has been linked to about $8 million in misappropriated TANF funds in the lawsuit.

Favre repaid the $1.1 million he received for speeches and appearances he didn’t do. 

Favre also allegedly helped Prevacus — a pharmaceutical company where Favre was the largest investor — secure $1.7 million in TANF funds using the same scheme that has led to several individuals being charged by federal and state prosecutors.

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