MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — St. Jude's football program has had recent success, but not without charges of questionable conduct leveled against football coach Wade Manora and principal Wanda Twitty by parents and former players.
In the past two years, Manora has had events in which players have signed "scholarships" to colleges that had not offered scholarships, had not recruited the players and in and least one instance, had never heard of St. Jude or Manora.
"I have no knowledge of that happening," Twitty said.
When specific instances of the questionable scholarship signing occurring were outlined for Twitty, she said she had no comment.
On national signing day last Feb. 1, three players at St. Jude gathered for a news conference in the school library to sign national letters of intent. Two of those scholarship offers were fraudulent, according to the coaches at the respective colleges.
Carlton Perkins, a wide receiver and a three-sport star at St. Jude, "signed" with Highland (Kansas) Community College, but Highland coach Ryan Held said he never offered a scholarship or made any effort to sign Perkins.
Jarvis Provitt, a Montgomery Advertiser All-Metro selection in football, "signed" with Alabama A&M University on a type-written sheet of paper that was not an official document from the university.
"Jarvis Provitt was not offered a football scholarship from Alabama A&M," Alabama A&M coach Anthony Jones said in a released statement to the Advertiser.
When asked this week about the incident, St. Jude executive director Douglas Watson said Manora was disciplined for the situation with Provitt.
In 2011, several weeks after signing day, Manora also called the Advertiser and said that Rashaad Williams had signed with Lane College in Jackson, Tenn.
Lane coach Derrick Burroughs said in a statement released to the Advertiser that Williams was not offered a scholarship, but only a preferred walk-on position.
Watson said he had not heard of the Williams situation with Lane College until the Advertiser informed him on Wednesday.
For Provitt, signing day was the beginning of a difficult struggle rather than a celebration of his prep career and a future in football.
"We were there thinking he was signing to play football at Alabama A&M and it was all false," said Renee Provitt, Jarvis' mother. "The St. Jude coach knew all along and had him sign a piece of paper that was fake that he made up himself. It was humiliating and embarrassing.
"There was no scholarship. It caused an incredible amount of pain to my family."
As a senior, Jarvis had 10 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries and was credited with 78 tackles. He was also a Hitchcock Award nominee for his school and church leadership and volunteer work, which included being a member of Enough is Enough (an organization started by his church, Freewill Baptist, to help stop violence in the community).
He said he did not hear of any potential scholarship offers from any schools until Manora spoke to him shortly before signing day.
"The week before, he told me he talked to coach Jones at A&M and that he was going to offer me a scholarship on signing day," Jarvis said. "On signing day, I signed a piece of paper. Two days after, another coach came up to me and he was like you need to check into it.
"My mom talked to coach Jones, and he had never heard of a coach Wade Manora. He didn't know anything about it. No information. No tapes and he had not heard or known who my coach was. . You know how kids are. I was embarrassed. It got to the point where I didn't even want to be around anybody because I really knew what happened now. It was embarrassing. It gets to you."
When asked about Provitt, Manora said Provitt did not qualify academically. Players regularly sign on national signing day not knowing whether they will qualify for their first collegiate season.
But when asked about the fact A&M did not offer Provitt a scholarship, Manora declined to answer the question.
Jarvis acknowledged there may have been some questions at that point whether he was academically qualified. He said he did take the ACT a second time and received a 16.
Jarvis is a student now at Alabama State University, where he completed classes in the summer session. He said he's a physical education major and plans on taking firefighter training classes in the fall, but is not ruling out the possibility of trying to play football again.
Jarvis said he struggled deciding whether to be interviewed for this story because of how much he loves St. Jude School, but he said for him it came down to one thing:
"They are my brothers over there and I love them," Jarvis said. "And I don't want what has happened to me and so many others over there to happen to them."
There are other issues raised against Manora and the school's administration.
Three former players and their parents said that Twitty allowed their children to stay in school and play football with large outstanding tuition balances during the season, but shortly after the last game did not allow those players to continue to participate in school and take exams.
On July 26, 2010, Stephanie Anthony received a letter from St. Jude that her son, Kaelin Pettus Anthony, would not be accepted for the 2010-11 school year because of an outstanding balance of $7,435.
It stated that Pettus Anthony, who played for the football team, could reapply when the balance was brought current.
Watson said each child in grades seven through 12 is charged $3,000 a year tuition. He said tuition is $7,400 per year but each student receives a $4,400 subsidy regardless of whether they are an athlete. Tuition was reduced for the 2011-12 school year and is in place for the 2012-13 school year. There was a different tuition scale in place in the 2010-11 school year.
"There are no breaks for athletes," Watson said. "Being a Catholic school, we work with all families. Just like a business, when people are not able to pay, we have bills."
Pettus Anthony's balance was not brought current prior to the school year, but he remained enrolled and part of the football team. Stephanie Anthony, who had lost her job, told the school she would not be able to pay prior to the start of the school year and was considering public school options.
Watson said he would not address individual parents' concerns.
"We really don't comment on what parents say," Watson said. "You get into a lot of privacy issues with parents. If they want to comment, that's fine. We don't comment. ... We stand as a pillar in this community for our faith and values and we stand by that. We do not know why people do what they do."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.