GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Dozens of Grand Rapids Community College football players were evicted on Monday and dozens of others walked away before that could happen, their landlord told 24 Hour News 8.
The evictions happened because landlord Beckett Property Management is still owed $85,000 in rent that was due in September, CEO Josh Beckett said.
He said he rented to the players after team coaches approached him earlier this year and they struck a deal to provide housing for roughly 70 students tied to the team.
But a college spokesman said GRCC does not pay for student housing, athletes included.
Beckett said 30 or 40 players were still living in his company's properties until Monday's evictions.
Some of their personal items -- clothes, furniture and what appears to be a football playbook -- sat on the sidewalk Monday night outside the northeast Grand Rapids homes they once lived in. Beckett said he had no choice but to evict.
Coaches approached him in February or March about housing the players, he said.
"[They] basically told us that payments are going to come in five months. You'll collect all your rent then," Beckett said. "We agreed to wait for security deposit, for rent to help them out. And we really felt with the school backing [the deal] verbally, no problem."
He admitted he never signed an actual contract with the coaches or school. "Maybe our fault there," Beckett said.
When it came time for the rent to come in, he said he only got around 20% of the money owed.
So Beckett contacted the school.
"We constantly were trying to figure out: where was the money?" he said. "Some of the people over there (at the school) said some of the students got the money ... that was supposed to go to housing. The parents say the school got the money."
Three GRCC football players, who did not want to be identified, told 24 Hour News 8 they did receive payments in the form of student loan disbursements. But they said they were never told that money was supposed to be used for rent. Housing was promised to them, they said.
The GRCC spokesman said he could not comment beyond saying that the college does not provide housing. 24 Hour News 8 wanted to know if the college could confirm a deal between coaches and Beckett.
Beckett said he wants the school to work with him to cover the shortfall "and to keep these kids in college, keep them in school ... most of them are pretty much homeless as of tonight."
The students who spoke with 24 Hour News 8 said they were staying with friends.
Beckett was the subject of a Target 8 investigation in February that examined his company's purchase of a number foreclosed homes and the code violations and fines against the company. He told 24 Hour News 8 that improvements have been made since then -- and that most of the back taxes owed by the company have been paid.
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