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Lawsuit: Brett Favre ‘Knew’ Welfare Funds Were Used for Volleyball Center

  • Favre's attorney calls new allegations that Hall of Fame QB knew source of funds 'groundless.'
  • University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation added as defendant in lawsuit.
Brett Favre speaking to members of the media 
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

Brett Favre “understood” that money the Hall of Fame quarterback pushed for to build a volleyball center at his alma mater came from a federal welfare program, according to a court filing in Mississippi on Monday. 

Front Office Sports reported last month that Favre knew the true source of the funds, but the amended complaint filed by the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) is the first time since the lawsuit was filed in May that the welfare agency spelled out in court Favre’s alleged culpability in the welfare scandal. 

Favre, who has been linked to about $8 million in misspent welfare funds, has long denied he knew the source of money that was improperly funneled to either him or projects he backed came from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). 

“MDHS’s proposed amended complaint … is as frivolous as its original complaint,” Favre’s attorney Eric Herschmann said in a statement to FOS. “…That a private citizen, like non-lawyer Brett Favre, could have any liability under these circumstances is baseless. Accordingly, we will oppose, on Brett’s behalf, MDHS’s motion to amend the complaint to the extent it adds these new groundless allegations.”

The new allegations center around the $5 million in TANF funds used to build a volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter played the sport. The University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation was added as a defendant. There are 40 other businesses and individuals added to the filing.

The money was funneled from the state welfare agency that Jon Davis headed through a nonprofit —  the Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC) — directed by Nancy New. Davis and New each have pleaded guilty to state and federal criminal charges for their roles in the scheme. 

The money was funneled from the state welfare agency that Jon Davis headed through a nonprofit —  the Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC) — directed by Nancy New. Both Davis and New have pleaded guilty to state and federal criminal charges for their roles in the scheme. 

“Through its directors and agents including Brett Favre, Nancy New, and [then-Southern Miss athletic director] Jon Gilbert, the [University of Southern Mississippi Athletic] Foundation understood that the source of the funding was federal TANF grant funds paid to MDHS,” the new civil complaint alleged.

Since TANF funds cannot be used for brick-and-mortar construction, Davis sent the funds to MCEC and then to the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation “under the guise of a ‘sublease,’” according to the complaint.

The funds were distributed in two, $2.5 million payments in late 2017. 

“Favre knew that John Davis was providing grant funds from MDHS to MCEC for construction of the volleyball facility, and he knew that MDHS is Mississippi’s ‘welfare agency.’” according to the filing. “Favre discussed the source of the funding—MDHS—with Jon Gilbert.”

Favre was unable to get the funds needed through “his friends and connections” via donations for the facility and didn’t want to pay for the project out of his own pocket, according to the filing. 

Brett Favre sues Shannon Sharpe, Pat McAfee, and Mississippi State Auditor Shad White .

Brett Favre Lays Blame for Mississippi Welfare Scandal on Former Governor

Lawyers filed motion to dismiss the quarterback and his company as defendants.
November 29, 2022

Favre’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss their client and his business, Favre Enterprises, from the lawsuit. In the filing, Favre’s lawyers stated the Mississippi Department of Human Services “groundlessly and irresponsibly seeks to blame Favre for its own grossly improper and unlawful handling of welfare funds.”

Favre Enterprises is not among the defendants in the amended complaint. The new complaint also doesn’t list the $1.1 million — which Favre returned — of welfare money he received from speaking fees. 

“Again, MDHS omits facts key to these new allegations — including that the Mississippi Attorney General signed off on the transfers of funds from MDHS to another state entity, the University of Southern Mississippi, all with the full knowledge and consent of [then Governor Phil Bryant] and other state officials,” Herschmann said.

In a separate filing Monday, the Mississippi Department of Human Services “obtained additional documents that support amending the Complaint to assert claims against new defendants arising out of the same nucleus of operative facts—the fraudulent transfer of TANF funds distributed under former MDHS Executive Director John Davis’s tenure.”

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