A scandal is brewing on campus at Florida Gulf Coast University, where someone affiliated with the school’s club football team sent out 100 fake scholarship offers to high school football players, giving the false impression that the teens in question could come play at FGCU on the school’s dime.
If you haven’t ever heard of FGCU football before, you’re not alone. The Eagles athletics department is best known for its basketball program, which rode Dunk City pandemonium to the Sweet 16 in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, eliminating the likes of Georgetown and San Diego State in the process. While they haven’t captured quite as much success since, the Eagles still reached the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and 2017.
Some also associate FGCU with its baseball program, which has produced more than 100 major and minor leaguers, most notable Red Sox ace Chris Sale.
But those aren’t the programs that were soliciting talented teenagers. Rather, it was the school’s club football team, which just finished its second-ever season with a 6-2 record, per our Gannett partners at the Naples Daily News.
So, how did a club program extend more than 100 “scholarship” offers to prospective student athletes? According to a statement from FGCU officials, the scholarship notices were sent out by a “non-employee, volunteer” with the sport club.
“There’s just been a large amount of social media chatter, young people congratulating each other on offers to play football at FGCU,” FGCU Vice President and Chief of Staff Susan Evans told the Daily News. “We just wanted to clear up a few things in case there was some confusion. First off, these offers aren’t being made by anyone in the athletic program as the football club isn’t affiliated with our athletic program. Second, any of these players getting so-called offers would have to apply for admission to the school just like anyone else. And third, there are no plans for football to be added as an NCAA sport.”
It’s possible that a note FGCU club football coach Kevin Van Duser sent to prospective students after they were offered a roster spot contributed to the online confusion. That still doesn’t fully explain the sudden influx of high school students thanking their lucky stars about receiving an offer from FGCU.
Van Duser told the Daily News that some local businesses had stepped forward to offer $2,000 scholarships to players on the team for the forthcoming four years, but none of those have allegedly been received or assigned to existing or incoming players in 2020. All of which leaves the players who received notices of an offer from FGCU exactly where they were before they received that offer … without a scholarship offer from a school in Fort Myers, Fla.