Players, parents voice concerns about Virginia Beach Institute

Posted at 7:36 PM, Oct 08, 2013

Virginia Beach, Va. (WTKR) - Some football players and their parents say they feel deceived after they claim the Virginia Beach Institute failed to deliver this semester.

Virginia Beach Institute bills itself as the "Community College Football Program for the Commonwealth of Virginia." High school graduates hoping to get noticed or recruited by colleges take online community college courses while doing football training and conditioning.

The team, Super Stallion Football, practices and plays at the Virginia Beach SportsPlex.

However, some parents and players say what they've gotten is not what they were promised.

Joseph Anderson of Florida flew to Norfolk Tuesday to pick up his son Demetrius who had been enrolled since this summer.

"I feel like this has been a total waste and just a sham, an egregious act of taking advantage of people who thought this was something they could get the kids to the next level," Joseph said.

His son Demetrius was equally disappointed.

"It was going to give me an opportunity to get back into school so I could get into a four-year college, but the way the program was it didn't come out," Demetrius explained. "They sold us a dream but couldn't make it into a reality."

NewsChannel 3 took the Andersons' concerns to Virginia Beach Institute President ToriAnn Parker.

She admits that the program has gotten off to a rough start. Of the more than 40 players who enrolled for the inaugural fall semester, just 18 are left.

"Unfortunately, a lot of students have had their families come under financial struggle, they couldn't pay their rent," Parker stated.

That rent was for housing at the Savannah Suites near Norfolk International Airport. The program costs $2,500 or $5,200 for those who use the housing.

Parker says many of the players haven't kept up with the payments and the money that has been paid has gone back into the program, as the entire staff is all volunteer right now.

"Most students had paid anywhere between $500 and $800 of that so far which a lot of that went towards the equipment use," Parker explained.

However, parents like Joseph Anderson said explanations have been few and far between from VBI.

"We've had a battle for getting answers for some of the programs and services that were going to be provided such as the lunch, the tutoring and that was the whole thing that was sold on us," Joseph said.

The meal plan was a $150 per month fee that was supposed to provide students with lunch and dinner.

Parker says it was canceled because the caterer wasn't providing sufficient food.

"The meals that they were receiving were not up to my standards and definitely not up to the students," Parked stated. "So we discussed it as a team and we decided it would be best to cut the meal plan."

Ka'wan Pete from Pompano Beach, Florida also left the program on Tuesday. He voiced concerns with the education aspect he thought would be a part of the Virginia Beach Institute.

"School work and SATs. I mean the football part I was doing it to stay in shape for whoever I signed to, but really I was here for the education part to get my grades up," Pete said.

NewsChannel 3 asked Parker about the education aspects of Virginia Beach Institute.

"They actually are not taking any of their classes from us," Parker said. "We are a football developmental program and I've talked to multiple parents on multiple occasions that have asked about the tutoring and I have said that all they need to do was request it."

Parker says 18 players is not a realistic number to compete with, so VBI is actively recruiting local players before deciding on the rest of the season's schedule.

The game scheduled for last weekend in New York was canceled for financial reasons.

"The company did not feel as though we could afford to make the trip up to New York," Parker explained. "It was in New Berlin, New York and it would have cost close to 10,000 dollars."

Despite the concerns, Parker says Virginia Beach Institute is moving forward. They are planning a possible move to Fort Monroe next Spring and says despite the low numbers, the program is still intact.

"We're moving forward. It's extremely unfortunate that parents couldn't meet the financial obligation to pay their students' rent, but the program is still intact," Parker stated.

Families like the Andersons though say they are leaving Virginia disappointed by what they say Virginia Beach Institute failed to deliver.

"We have to pick up the pieces to the puzzle and somehow or another see where we can go from here," Joseph Anderson stated.