The former NFL’s NFL 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 this same period, Favre was trying to raise funds for a new volleyball court at the university, where he played football and his daughter was on the volleyball team. This stadium’s funds are under scrutiny in the largest public fraud case in Mississippi history.
Favre 4 Hope, whose mission statement says it provides support “for disadvantaged children, the disabled, and breast cancer patients,” receives public donations. Tax records show that in 2018, the foundation awarded the USM Athletic Foundation $60,000. Every other organization received $10,000. In 2019, the USM Athletic Foundation received $46,817. The second highest donation, for the Special Olympics in Mississippi, 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 in 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 augmented club $60,000, according to tax records. In 2013, the booster club received $10,000 from Favre 4 Hope.
“He’s been very generous with Miss South since he played ball there,” Bud Holmes, Favre’s attorney, told ESPN Wednesday night. “Those very things [the donations in question] I don’t know, but I know he always gave the favour, which is something most athletes don’t do.”
The Athletic newspaper first reported Donations by the Favre Charitable Foundation to the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation.
Favre, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is involved in a wide-ranging investigation of welfare spending in Mississippi. He received $1.1 million in speaking fees for appearances he allegedly never made, according to a state auditor. He said he did not know where the money came from and repaid it, although the state still required $228,000 in interest. Text messages show that Favre was also involved in the transfer of at least $5 million in sponsorship money to the volleyball court.
Favre has not been charged with a criminal offense. His attorney previously denied to Mississippi Today that the Hall of Famer knew he had received welfare money.