In-Depth: How Brett Favre Secured $6 Million in Welfare Funds For A Volleyball Stadium

“Multiple prosecutors” are still examining the facts and making decisions about criminal charges in Mississippi’s sprawling welfare scandal that saw millions in funds meant for poor families go instead to wealthy celebrities, Mississippi State Auditor Shad White said on Thursday, Sept. 15.

The auditor made that remark on CNN after court documents revealed on Monday, Sept. 12, revealed dozens of text messages showing how retired-NFL star Brett Favre, former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and nonprofit leader Nancy New coordinated on procuring welfare funds to finance an $8-million volleyball stadium.

New ran the nonprofit Mississippi Community Education Center when it directed $5 million in Temporary Assistance For Needy Families to The University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation, whose board she sat on, to fund the stadium on the Hattiesburg campus. Her nonprofit also directed $1.1 million to Favre for motivational speeches he never delivered. 

She and her son, Zach New, have pled guilty to multiple state charges, including bribery and wire fraud as part of a plea agreement. The newly revealed text messages, revealed publicly in a court filing in a separate civil suit this week, shed light on how $6.1 million meant for the poorest families in the poorest state wound up going to Favre and a pet project at his alma mater instead.

The civil suit is part of the State of Mississippi’s efforts to recover tens of millions in misspent funds from dozens of players, including Favre, New and MCEC, her nonprofit.

A ‘Very Big Deal’

In a filing seeking to compel ex-Gov. Bryant to turn over information about the volleyball stadium scheme that went public on Monday, Sept. 12, MCEC noted that the State’s lawsuit claims the organization “paid Favre $1,100,000 simply for the ‘purpose of enriching’ him.”

“The evidence, however, shows that MCEC paid Favre $1,100,000 expressly to provide Favre with additional funds to use for construction of the Volleyball Facility,” the New-founded nonprofit group’s filing says. 

Non-profit founder Nancy New pleaded guilty in April 2022 to charges related to the largest welfare scandal in Mississippi history. Court filings say she helped direct $5 million in

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