Even more text messages concerning Brett Favre’s push for a Southern Miss volleyball arena have come to light. Once again, they do not reflect well on the former Green Bay Packers quarterback.
A recent court filing has revealed texts showing Favre continued to press Mississippi state officials for funding, even after being told by then-Gov. Phil Bryant’s misuse of state funds could be illegal, according to ESPN. Favre also reportedly pushed for help in building an indoor football facility to assist the Golden Eagles’ recruiting.
As one text showed, Bryant explicitly mentioned some of those funds came from a federal program intended for needy families (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF) and that improper use of the funds is illegal:
On July 28, 2019, Bryant texted Favre that the founder of a nonprofit who paid him “has some limited control over Federal Funds in the form of Grants for Children and adults in the Low Income Community.”
“Use of these funds [is] tightly controlled,” Bryant wrote, according to the filing. “Any improper use could result in violation of Federal Law. Auditors are currently reviewing the use of these funds.”
Favre has so far claimed to have not known the origin of the money he allegedly funneled to the volleyball stadium, although a recent filing of other texts earlier this month showed him pursuing funds from Bryant and Nancy New, who is the head of the Mississippi Community Education Center at the center of the scandal. At one point, Favre was seen asking “If you were to pay me, is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?” in 2017.
That pursuit would allegedly see $5 million granted to build the volleyball arena for his alma mater and $1.1 million given personally to Favre to further assist the project. His daughter recently played volleyball for Southern Miss.
All of that money apparently wasn’t enough for the arena, as Favre allegedly continued to appeal personally to Bryant, who is also a Southern Miss alum.
According to the filing, Favre texted Bryant on Sept. 4, 2019, after a meeting they and others had to discuss requesting an additional $1.8 million to $2 million for programs at the new facility.
“We obviously need your help big time and time is working against us,” Favre wrote. “And we feel that your name is the perfect choice for this facility and we are not taking No for an answer! You are a Southern Miss Alumni, and people need to know that you are also a supporter of the University.”
Bryant responded, according to the filing: “We are going to get there. This was a great meeting. But we have to follow the law. I am to[o] old for Federal Prison.”
Favre’s persistence seemed to wear on Bryant and others, such as then-Southern Miss president Rodney Bennett. While Favre, who made more than $100 million in salary during his NFL career, apparently pledged his own money to help build the arena, he allegedly asked Bryant in 2020 for a legislative appropriation to cover his debt.
In texts between Bryant and Bennett, the two men sounded perplexed that Favre had not grasped why the state of Mississippi would not give him a bailout:
The next day, Favre texted Bryant that he had spoken with “Tate” — current Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves – and urged Bryant to continue pressing as well, according to the filing. Bryant also texted Bennett, who replied that he had “asked Brett not to do the things he’s doing to seek funding from state agencies and the legislature.”
“As you know, IHL [Mississippi’s higher education system] has a process of how we request and get approval for projects and what he’s doing is outside those guidelines,” Bennett wrote. “I will see, for the umpteenth time, if we can get him to stand down. The bottom line is that he personally guaranteed the project, and on his word and handshake we proceeded. It’s time for him to pay up — it really is just that simple.”
Bryant responded: “Maybe he wants the state to pay off his promises. Like all of us I like Brett. He is a legend but he has to understand what a pledge means. I have tried many times[s] to explain that to him.”
Somehow, the volleyball arena wasn’t even the end of Favre’s effort to pull in money for his alma mater.
Brett Favre allegedly pushed for a Southern Miss indoor football facility, too
Even more texts reported by ESPN show Favre asking Bryant to expand a funding request from the MDHS to help build an indoor facility for the Southern Miss football program, reportedly to aid the school’s pursuit of three-star quarterback recruit Shedeur Sanders.
Bryant’s filing also says that Favre, in the text exchange on July 28, 2019, “expanded his request for MDHS funding” to include a new football facility to help lure Deion Sanders’ son, highly sought after quarterback Shedeur, to Southern Miss.
“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,” Favre texted Bryant, according to the filing. “Now that will not happen without your help/commitment!!! I know we have the Vball to complete first and I’m asking a lot with that and I believe 100% that if you can get this done Nancy will reach and help many and in the recruiting war [a new indoor practice facility] will give USM[‘s football program] instant credibility and [USM football will] become relevant again.”
Sanders would eventually commit to Jackson State, where his father, Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, is the head coach.
Brett Favre facing civil suit, losing sponsors
Favre has not been reported to be facing criminal charges, although many involved in the alleged scheme, including New and former Mississippi Department of Human Services director John Davis, have pleaded guilty for their roles. The FBI has also reportedly questioned him about the matter.
On the civil side, Favre is among the defendants in the state of Mississippi’s lawsuit to recover his funds. Favre has reportedly paid back $1.1 million, but the state is also pursuing $228K in interest from the Hall of Famer.
The scandal, which has only grown since Favre’s alleged involvement was revealed by a state auditor in 2020, has begun to tangibly impact Favre’s public profile.
His weekly appearances on ESPN Milwaukee have been paused indefinitely, while two more outlets have not had him make appearances since Sept. 13. Additionally, two companies that sponsor him have recently scrubbed him from their websites.