PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Several families have contacted the Action News Investigative Team after they say a former NFL player sold them a football prep program that didn’t live up to its promises.
Three local families sent their four teenagers to Florida. They said they anticipated a program that would help improve their football feature film and lead to a Division 1 scholarship. Instead, they say they have empty excuses.
The children worked on the grate for years. They dreamed of a football future, but most of them ended up on I-95 in North Palm Beach Prep, Florida after graduating from Salem High in Newark, Delaware. And their parents say they’re running out of thousands of dollars.
“I definitely got ripped off,” said Laquendala Bentley.
“This whole experience broke his heart,” added Lester Coleman.
Football Prep Schools are programs designed to give players extra time after high school to grow academically and athletically, often to create highlight videos and improve on college entrance exams to earn an athletic scholarship.
North Palm Beach Prep was owned by former Los Angeles Raiders defenseman Derrick Crudup Sr.
“He uses that he’s an ex-football player from the Raiders and that’s how he draws people in, and that’s not right,” Stella St. John-Coleman said.
Lester Coleman and his wife Stella of Newark, Delaware enrolled their son Lee Jr. at North Palm Beach Prep in the summer of 2021.
They said Crudup Sr. asked for $4,400. The contract included program tuition, academic support, and a 10-game schedule.
“His personality was kind of like that of a used car salesman,” said Coleman.
The Colemans announced the program with a trip to Boca Raton. They toured the beautiful grounds of Florida Atlantic University, where Crudup Sr. allegedly told them they were playing games. They visited Johnnie O’s, a famous training facility for professional athletes, where they were told the kids were training.
“That was a big selling point,” added Coleman.
Instead, the families said they practiced at a Pop Warner field and only played three games, not at Florida Atlantic but at a local high school. And that gym didn’t happen.
“We expected to train in a nice facility that has an outdoor weight room, grass courts and all that, but we got a YMCA,” said North Palm Beach competitor Amir Monsour.
“What was promised was not given,” said Bentley.
But even more important to Laquendala Bently and her son Amir were the ACT and SAT prep courses, which Crudup Sr. claimed were part of the program.
Amir was trying to brush up on his academic resume for college.
Crudup’s sales brochure states that players attend classes three times a week and “must do exactly what our academic advisor tells you to make the process work”.
“Were there ACT and SAT preparation courses?” asked Chad Pradelli, investigative reporter for Action News.
“No, not at all,” said Monsour.
“You expected that?” asked Pradelli.
“Yes,” added Monsour.
The sales brochure spoke of shuttles to workouts and game film sessions. They say they have none of it either.
Bentley paid more than $15,000 to have her son and girlfriend participate in the program.
“I couldn’t use that money to send him to a local college,” Bentley added.
“There was nothing there. No test prep. No real practice,” said Coleman.
The parents said Crudup Sr allegedly blamed Covid for many of the programme’s problems. He has since left Florida and brought his prep school model to Atlanta, Georgia and founded ATL Prep.
“Hello, it’s Derrick Crudup again – former Oklahoma Sooner, former Los Angeles Raider and head football coach of The ATL Collegiate Prep,” Crudup Sr. said in a Twitter promotional video.
Crudup Sr. has declined to comment to Action News.
Our sister station in Atlanta tried to track him down for comment but didn’t.
“Recruitment is the lifeblood of any successful program. I’ve been on the phone for two months to hire college coaches to come to ATL Prep to watch you practice, watch your game, and do interviews and speak with you,” added Crudup Sr. in a promotional video.
Coach Jonathan Page said he was originally hired at ATL Prep as the head coach. But he said he soon sensed trouble.
“When the parents were at Palm Beach Prep and they told us things and we defended him,” Page said. “And then, right before our eyes, things started to unfold the same way.”
Page said the program lacked adequate facilities as promised. He and Crudup Sr. went their separate ways after the program executive questioned his recruitment efforts.
“If I’m a player or a parent, I want to come first and see what I’m paying for. I’m not just going to come and give you money,” Page said. “So he was offended by that.”
Coach Sherman Adams coached for Crudup Sr. and North Palm Beach Prep in 2020 when the program originally started in Port St. Lucie.
Adams claimed Crudup Sr. also failed to pay umpires for games and packed players into a house with mattresses on the floor and glass doors boarded up.
“The apartment buildings, the training facility, the college, the offices and the football field — that’s what he really sold us and we had none of it,” Adams said.
Adams said Crudup Sr. didn’t even have water bottles to practice with, which a player’s parents eventually bought. And the team didn’t have a coach.
“You gotta have a coach, man. I mean kids get hurt you know what you gonna do? You have to have a coach,” Adams added
Adams said that although Crudup Sr. received more than $20,000 in federal funding under the Paycheck Protection Program, neither he nor the other coaches were paid.
In the end, he said the team only played six games in 2020 instead of the planned 10, but he proudly said they went unbeaten.
“He broke the hearts of some kids,” Adams said. “He shattered some kids’ dreams, man.”
Court documents also show that the Merraine Group sued Crudup Sr. in 2020 for unpaid rent on an office space he used for North Palm Beach Prep’s offices. A default judgment was issued.
The company’s president told Action News Crudup Sr. never paid rent and took all of the company’s desks, chairs, artwork, and filing cabinets. They said he even took the lightbulbs and toilet paper when he left.
The Colemans and Bentley told Action News their boys’ 2021 season at North Palm Beach Prep also ended abruptly when their sons called and said they were being kicked out of their hotel for lack of pay.
It’s unclear if the missing payment was due to Crudup Sr. or some players.
“So it was panicking at the last minute because it’s so far away, you know?” St. James-Coleman said.
Finally her boys came home. They returned with broken promises and shattered dreams.
Lee Jr. plays football at Kutztown University.
Another player is at a community college in Kansas while the others are not currently in the game.
“It was a learning experience. Our thing now is that families and kids move forward. And I (will) let everyone know what’s going on,” Coleman said.
“You’re really hurting the kids,” Bentley added. “Kids who expected to have a better chance missed this opportunity because we trusted him to provide something that we thought would improve their chances of getting to D1 or D2 college.”
The parents said they filed their complaints with the Florida Attorney General, but the complaint went nowhere.
They warn anyone thinking of enrolling in a post graduate football prep school to do their due diligence.
Action News reached out to Crudup Sr. for comment, but he didn’t respond.
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https://6abc.com/derrick-crudup-football-prep-program-north-palm-beach-atl/12352097/ Former NFL player Derrick Crudup under fire for football prep program