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Ex-former college prep football coach says he spent the team's money legitimately

Ex-former college prep football coach says he spent the team

By: Genevieve Curtis
EL PASO, Texas-- The El Paso Police Department is now investigating the former coach of an El Paso College prep team.
This comes after KFOX14 Investigates reported parents alleged the former head coach of the program took all their money and didn’t come through with his promises.
Farasi Norman is the former head coach of the El Paso Prep Football Academy and now he’s firing back at parents.
Parents from across the country contacted KFOX14 Investigates after learning Norman had unexpectedly left the program, left town, and closed down the team’s bank account.  It has left the team without any money to travel to its games. The point of a college prep team is to give players the chance to travel around and play small and junior colleges, to gain exposure. 
Norman tells KFOX14’s Chief Investigative Reporter Genevieve Curtis it’s not his fault the team ran out of money.
“I started paying for all the equipment, so that is where the money went,” said Norman.
The prep team is designed to give high school grads a second chance at earning a college scholarship to play football. Many of the players were recruited in high school but did not have either the GPA or the ACT score to get a college scholarship. A prep program is supposed to give students the opportunity to improve their test scores, retake classes or address other academic issues without losing any eligibility, and making it possible to be recruited by a college or university with football program. 
Parents paid between $1,000 to $2,500 for the program that was supposed to provide for equipment, transportation and travel expenses for away games, tutoring and ACT/SAT prep. The team has players from all over Texas, Florida, Alabama and even England. 
But parents are questioning where all the money went. 
Norman claims about five out of the roughly 35 players have not paid their fees.
“A lot of parents try to take advantage of you and I'll be specific, black parents. Black parents really try to take advantage of me because I am a black man,” said Norman.
Norman said unpaid fees total around $11,000, which he said could pay for the team's travel expenses.
However, parents said that would never be enough to cover the expenses of road games.
EPPFA is now under a new head coach, Eric Maldonado.  EPPFA officials are attempting to raise $25,000, which they believe to be the true costs necessary to pay for buses, hotels and travel expenses for their away games.
Curtis said, “The program was not in the best financial state that five players not paying could make or break the season?”
“Once again, it’s a brand-new program, you start from ground zero with no money, we have equipment, we have helmets, shoulder pads, water coolers, water bottles, bags, (sic), footballs, jerseys, practice pads. So as far as equipment goes, you have enough equipment for five years. Everyone needs to put their money on the table so it can run smoothly. Unfortunately you have five families out there that did not that’s why we are in the situation that we are in,” said Norman. 
Norman sent KFOX14 several documents which he said proves he spent all of the teams money legitimately.
According to his own expenditures report, he spent $54,395.19 on the program.
Here’s where he said the money went:
            $45,453.35 for uniforms, helmets, shoulder pads and other equipment. 
            $4,997.41 for embroidered T-shirts, shorts and hats.
            $869.20 for a U-haul storage unit.
            $523.27 on decals for helmets.
            $200.00 for a DJ for Bandit Barbeque.
            $600.00 for cook for Bandit Barbeque.
            $400.00 at the Fort Bliss Commissary for Bandit Barbeque supplies.
            $1,000 to create and maintain website.
            $351.96 for liability insurance
Norman said he does not have itemized receipts for those purchases and some of those transactions were paid for in cash or a cashier’s check.
“This program is still going on, it's not in jeopardy of closing,” said Norman.

“I'm under the impression it is (in) jeopardy of closing because they don't have any money to go to the games,” said Curtis.

“Let’s say I’m still there, I'm sick, I'm tired but I'm still there. If the parents don't pay than where am I at?” said Norman.

“Well that’s what I’m asking, if it was already in a fragile state to begin with,” said Curtis.

“Yes ma'am it was in a very fragile state. When I met with Eric, I told him, ‘I gotta give you the reigns.’ I told him, ‘I can't keep moving on like this. I gotta go home, I got to go back to the doctor. But there is still money if you can collect this money you can finish up,’” said Norman.
As KFOX14 Investigates reported, Norman suddenly shut down his New Mexico program in 2009. He said it was because players were misbehaving. Norman claimed the state required he donate all of the equipment because he said the state gave him the first $60,000 to run the program as he has indicated on the team website.
Curtis asked Norman if he could understand why parents who have paid in full for the program say they feel scammed.
“You told them that the money was going to go for equipment and buses and right now the program has absolutely no money to go to any of the games,” said Curtis

“Ok, you know, you can't blame me for the parents that did not pay because I can only do so much,” said Norman. 

“Coach, I understand there are a handful of players but you still have 30 other...” said Curtis.

“Miss Curtis, the way you are making it sound to me is that it’s my fault they can’t get on those buses. But it’s not my fault, it’s those parents fault because they did not send their money in,” said Norman. 
Norman said he only paid himself around $3,500 for housing expenses and gas.
His assistant coaches were not paid at all. Norman said he intended to pay them at the end of the season.
Norman said he does not believe he overspent money or underestimated how much it would cost to run the program.
“When you are starting a program from scratch, do you think you overspent on embroidering T-shirts and shorts and should have kept it to the basics and bare minimum until more money came in?” asked Curtis.
“Well no, because you don’t really know how many you are going to get… I didn’t overspend anything,” said Norman. 
Norman admitted he may have over ordered on the embroidered T-shirts, shorts and hats, but he said he sold some to parents.
Norman said he gave discounted prices to several players as well. 
“The bad part of it is, the parents didn't pay.  When you run these kind of programs you have to be more of a business man. I am more of a coach than a business man,” said Norman.
“Knowing there was no money and you were departing, do you think you should have closed the program down and sold the equipment and given the parents back their money?” asked Curtis.

“No, no. I truly believed the parents would come through, there was always an excuse but I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt,” said Norman.
“Do you understand where parents are saying this is a scam and they feel scammed?” asked Curtis. 

“I don't understand where they can say they feel scammed because the program is still going on,” said Norman. “I don't see where they can say this was a scam because once again when they started this program in January there was no equipment, no shirts no hats, no nothing now they have everything they need except the last few dollars to pay for the buses to finish the season, and that is not the fault of coach Norman because I can only do so much,” said Norman. 
Parents were also upset because they said in addition to verbal promises, Norman’s website promises, tutoring, study halls and ACT prep.
Norman said the website was duplicated from his last program's website. 
“Do you think it's misleading to parents who think their kids are going to get tutoring?” asked Curtis.

“In one way you can say yes but I really thought El Paso Community College was going to be more willing to assist me and the boys,” said Norman. 
Parents also sent KFOX14 Investigates text messages from Norman in which he claims Adidas was sponsoring the Bandits.
Adidas is listed on his website under ‘Sponsors.’ 

The text message reads, "FYI-- EPPFA just signed a sponsorship deal with ADIDAS :) BANDITS RIDE!!!"
“But Adidas is not sponsoring the program?” asked Curtis
“No, no ma’m. Adidas is just on the game jerseys,” said Norman.
KFOX14 asked Norman what he would say to upset parents.
“To the parents did pay, I would say, I apologize. But I made the announcement upfront, I had no secrets. Everything was spent correctly. I did not put nothing in my pocket. I didn't go to Canada or the Bahamas,” said Norman. 

The El Paso Police Department’s financial crimes unit now has an open investigation into this case.
The team and its new coach have set up an account online to try to raise the money they need to finish their season. 


Ex-former college prep football coach says he spent the team's money legitimately
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