ATLANTA – Former NFL player Kendrell Bell has accused his college football coach at the University of Georgia of duping him out of US$2 million.
Jim Donnan convinced Bell to invest the money in GLC Limited, a liquidation company that would buy appliances and furniture for resale, according to documents filed last month in U.S. Bankruptcy Court by Bell’s lawyers. Bell’s lawyers say Donnan, though, was the front man for a scam. Donnan has filed for bankruptcy protection and Bell has filed a claim in bankruptcy court to recover his money.
Bell’s lawyers Michael Hanson and Brian Gwitt on Friday declined to comment on the case. Donnan’s lawyer Ed Tolley did not return a phone call and an email seeking comment but had said previously that the ex-coach was not involved in a scheme.
Donnan has been entangled in a legal battle with the new operators of GLC, who have also accused the College Football Hall of Fame inductee of running an investment scheme for his own profit. Federal prosecutors have not charged Donnan. It wasn’t immediately clear whether federal authorities are investigating, and an FBI spokesman declined comment.
GLC is being restructured in an Ohio bankruptcy court after filing for protection in February. The new operators were seeking to recoup what they said were improper gains Donnan received after convincing fellow college coaches and others to invest $70 million in an alleged Ponzi scheme.
Donnan, who coached at UGA from 1996 to 2000 and is an ex-ESPN analyst, filed for bankruptcy protection in July amid GLC’s financial woes.
Donnan’s lawyers has acknowledged his client was paid lucrative commissions, but he said Donnan believed he was being paid from legitimate profits earned by the company. In a proposed settlement that Donnan later abandoned, he said he sought to pay back some of the winnings since late 2010, when he discovered the money he was earning came from other investors he helped recruit.
Donnan also helped attract other prominent figures to invest. Among the names listed in federal filings are Texas State football coach Dennis Franchione, Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer, ex-Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer, Texas Tech football coach Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech basketball coach Billy Gillispie and North Carolina State basketball coach Mark Gottfried.
Bell played seven seasons as linebacker in the NFL, first for the Pittsburgh Steelers, then the Kansas City Chiefs. He filed a proof of claim in Donnan’s bankruptcy case and last month asked a federal court in Georgia to extend the deadline for him to file an action that would prevent the money he says Donnan owes him from being wiped out in bankruptcy proceedings.
The relationship between a college football player and his players “is very intimate and is built on trust,” Bell said in a court filing. Even as GLC and Donnan and his wife filed for bankruptcy, Donnan repeatedly assured him, “Coach is going to take care of you,” Bell said. Because Donnan told him not to speak to lawyers or reporters, Bell missed a deadline to keep Donnan’s alleged debts to him from being wiped out by bankruptcy proceedings, according to the court filing.