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BY Francis Akhalbey, 9:22am July 01, 2024,

Former NFL star JaMarcus Russell loses coaching job after claims he took $74K high school donation

Lorenzo Johnson was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1997 -- Photo Credit: sergeitokmakov

Williamson High School announced it had removed former NFL star JaMarcus Russell as a volunteer assistant coach in the wake of a lawsuit alleging that he pocketed a $74,000 donation for the educational institution’s football program.

According to WKRG, Russell attended Williamson High School before becoming a star quarterback at LSU and eventually being selected as the number one overall draft pick in the NFL. He became a member of Williamson High School’s football staff in 2018.

“JaMarcus Russell was relieved of his volunteer coaching duties at Williamson High School during the fall of last year,” Mobile County Public School officials told the news outlet, though details behind his removal were not disclosed as a result of personnel matters. The MCPSS did not also disclose if his removal was a result of the lawsuit.

But court documents stated that a $74,000 check that was written by a certain Chris Knowles was deposited and cashed by Russell at Navigator Credit Union in July 2022. Knowles also told the news outlet that the money was meant to be a donation to Williamson High School’s football program, adding that he donated the funds on behalf of a building company that he runs.

Sources with the high school’s football program, however, told the news outlet that the funds were not channeled toward its intended purposes. Knowles also said he wrote the check after Russell got in touch with him in 2022 about providing funds to help buy weight-room equipment for Williamson football, WKRG reported. But Knowles said he decided to cease making payments on the check he issued after Russell was unable to issue a receipt of his donation and stopped returning his phone calls. 

The lawsuit against Russell was ultimately filed by Navigator Credit Union in March 2023. The financial institution claims that almost $55,000 of the $75,000 check was accidentally paid to Russell on the day it was deposited. The lawsuit also claims that the funds were “lent” to Russell after the defendant requested it.

But Russell served a counterclaim against Knowles eight months after the lawsuit was brought against Russell. Russell in the counterclaim accused Knowles of ceasing to make payments on the check. And though court documents state that Russell did not deny depositing the check, he claimed he did nothing wrong. 

The Oakland Raiders selected Russell as the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2007. Between that year and 2009, Russell scored 18 touchdowns and had 23 interceptions. The salary and bonuses he raked in during his NFL career was over $36.4 million.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: July 1, 2024

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