Student-athletes cry foul over Florida pop-up religious college

POINCIANA, Fla. (WFLA) – They came to Poinciana, Fla. With the dream of earning college credits and improving their grades at the brand new St. Sebastian Elite College, while also improving their time rolls to win. a hit with a bigger football program.

But there were red flags long before the team played its first and only game in September, according to Carteyae Gordon, 20, of Lansing, Mich.

“We only had 17 players. We shared helmets. We didn’t have a coach, ”recalls Gordon. “We became suspicious when for our first game we had no referees. Our coaches refined our game. It was just awful.

Even without a campus, a verification letter accepted in May by the Florida Department of Education indicates that San Sebastian has met state requirements as a religious institution “and is not subject to government oversight” until. ” as of May 31, 2022.


Gordon and several other former St. Sebastian rookies say coach DeMarcus Lattier “sold the college well” as a program that would help them further their college careers.

“He promised us that he would help us get into different colleges. Basically get us some exposure, ”Gordon said. “He would help us get better. “

Daniel Abdul, 21, of St. Petersburg, Fla., Said he started asking questions when there was a shortage of players in the first practice.

“I’m like, ‘Coach, is that it?'” Said Abdul. “He said we would have a lot. He said the others were coming, the others were coming.

They never came, and within days of the first kickoff, the Fighting Foxes football season was over.

Then, according to Abdul, access to class work was frozen for some students who received emails from professors claiming that “no one received a paycheck.” Abdul said that at that time he was forced to pay school fees.

“I gave him money – $ 1,000, hundreds,” Abdul said. “[I gave it to] coach himself.

Lattier did not deny that he took Abdul’s money.

“We accept all forms of payment,” Lattier said. “We don’t have financial aid because you have to be accredited. “

Student-athletes cry foul over Florida pop-up religious college

According to Lovella Jones, vice president of academic affairs at San Sebastian, the accreditation process is underway. Jones is not disclosing the number of students enrolled.

Another issue was with what was listed as the physical address of San Sebastian: 445 Marigold Avenue is the same address as the Poinciana Community Center.

But in an email, the centre’s operations manager, Eldonia Gonzalez, said San Sebastian “shouldn’t use our address.”

“They don’t rent our facility,” Gonzalez said.

The address has since been removed from the San Sebastian website.

Gordon filed a complaint with the DOE’s Commission on Independent Education, but in an email, spokesman Brett Tubbs said the commission “does not have jurisdiction” over the college.

“A student should ask for a private execution,” Tubbs said.

Gordon did not say if he would file a civil lawsuit against San Sebastian.

Lattier stressed that he was “100%” honest with the rookies.

“We have players who weren’t happy, and I wish these young men the best,” said Lattier. “It’s not just about football. We want to keep trying to help. Keep trying to give opportunities to young men and women who need them. “

Lattier and Jones said they believed there would be a real campus and football program going forward, but didn’t come up with a timeline.

“These things take time,” Lattier said.

Gordon and the other players who left the program said they had wasted money and time and were now trying to figure out where to go next.

Keewone Parker, 20, of Lansing, Michigan, said he was waiting for a call.

“This is what I have to do,” Parker said. “I feel embarrassed by this. My parents questioned it, but I bit. Now I am waiting to play elsewhere.


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