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School closes football program after major NFL grant

School closes football program after major NFL grant


MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Parents up Freedom Preparatory Academy charter school wants answers after shutting down its entire football program just one year after receiving a $50,000 grant from the Tennessee Titans.

On Wednesday, parents received a letter during an emergency meeting informing them that the middle and high school football program has now been canceled.

“Freedom Preparatory Academy (FPA) recently made the difficult decision to restructure its athletics program, which has resulted in the discontinuation of our football program for both middle and high school students,” said a statement from Freedom Prep Academy. “This decision has not been taken lightly and we understand the concern and disappointment this has caused among our families. Our primary goal remains to support all of our student-athletes and provide them with diverse opportunities to excel both academically and athletically.

One mother, who wanted to hide her identity to protect her high school son, expressed her frustrations.

“To see those grown men crying, teachers crying, older boys crying, it broke my heart,” she said.

WREG reported in April 2023 that the Tennessee Titans directly awarded the school a $50,000 grant for football. This included field upgrades, bleachers, lighting and a scoreboard.

A year later, this mother says finances are the main reason for the closure.

They called us for a meeting and said the football team was closing because they were 100,000 in debt,” she said. I'd like them to find out where the money went.

In a statement sent Thursday, Freedom Prep Academy said the program did not have $100,000 in debt, adding: “The intent was to ensure an equitable distribution of resources among all programs in athletics, arts and academics and to ensure sustainability.”

Former coach Desmond King shared recent photos from the field with WREG. According to him, no improvements have been made.

“It's more than just a game. These guys are looking forward to doing this,” King said. “A lot of these guys don't have father figures at home and these coaches become their mentors. Even my son is looking forward to going to school.

Freedom Prep Academy confirms that it has not completed the field upgrades and says that “to date, no refundable funds have been received from the NFL Foundation.”

Parents say they will be weighing their options throughout the summer.




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