Grand Rapids Community College is dealing with a housing controversy that involves the school’s football team, after 20 people were evicted from a rental property.
As of Wednesday, however, it is looking more and more like the situation may be a big misunderstanding rather than some sort of a scandal.
Landlord Josh Beckett has not gotten rent money he's owed from several GRCC football players.GRCC football players get a list of rental options with a note denoting monthly rent on the properties is between $200-275 a month, within the student’s financial aid allowance, so there is no out of pocket expense to the students.
Some of the players paid up, others didn’t pay, and some who didn't make the team, left school, or left West Michigan altogether.
Now the landlord Josh Beckett is trying to get the money owed to him, around $80,000, and the school has opened its own investigation into the matter.
“We're able to inform them what financial aid is available and it's up to them to pursue it based on their needs and then use it appropriately for any cost associated with attending the college," said Raul Alvarez, Director of Communication, GRCC
"It’s a little conflicting to us that this wasn't told to the football players that they were responsible for rent," countered Josh Beckett, Beckett Realty. "A good majority of those players said they had no idea, and when we went to evict them, they had no idea of what was going on."
Torian Anderson, the mother of freshman slot receiver Malik Norman, said that at the team's signing party in the spring attended by a majority of the players it was announced that players and their families were responsible for obtaining and paying for their own housing.
"Coach Annese stayed for at least three hours answering any questions we had and even took parents outside to walk around and see some of the available apartments near the campus," added Anderson.
Anderson said she asked head coach Tony Annese if he could help find a roommate for her son, Malik. The coaching staff gave Anderson contact information for Devon Bailey's family and no other assistance after that. Bailey and Norman agreed to room together and found an apartment near the school on their own.
Michelle Bailey, Devon's mother, said she assumed there was no financial aid since they knew GRCC couldn't offer scholarships. "We were never offered anything," she added. Devon Bailey transferred to GRCC from Northern Illinois, an NCAA Division One program.
GRCC has made it clear they are investigating the claims of unpaid rent, and not opening an investigation into the football program.