Five months after a veteran Metro police officer resigned and stepped down as president of the UNA football program after a scandal involving missing money, a new board of directors is trying to put the past behind them and look toward the future.
It was a scandal that almost jeopardized the season and kept the UNA Bears off the field, but that didn't happen.
"We've had so much more parent involvement than in the past, a record number of kids and a lot more people wanting to help UNA now," said UNA Recreation Association president Rod Sims.
Players and cheerleaders are making noise louder now than ever before thanks to sponsors who have stepped in to support the teams.
"Any money that is missing is the least of our worries," said UNA Recreation Association treasurer Craig Paxson. "People are just coming out of the woodwork saying 'I will help you guys financially, and with leadership.'"
There are now new folks in charge after money reportedly went missing under the leadership former league president and coach John Patton, who was also a former Metro Police officer.
The new board of directors wants to put the scandal behind them and focus on what's important - the kids.
"We're not only building football players, we're building community leaders here," Sims said. "We're just moving forward and doing what's best for the park and these kids."
The UNA Recreation Association has helped to keep thousands of youngsters off the streets and on the right track to success.
A record number of players signed up this year. Now the nonprofit wants to expand the recreational programs. It's not certain if the league will add basketball, baseball or soccer.
We know we need to have more of an athletic presence to draw more kids into our program," Paxson said.
The board is planning to start a tutorial program. They are also in the process of starting scholarships for players and cheerleaders who have participated in the UNA program.
"Really it's not just about football, it's really about academics," said Scott Harrison, the league's secretary.
The board of directors is also hoping to raise money to renovate the building that will house the tutorial program. It will not just be for the players but for the students in the community who needs help.
Former players, like Michael Beamon from Brentwood Academy, often come back to help mentor players. He says UNA laid the foundation for their success. He played under Patton.
"Coach Patton is a really good man. I've known him ever since I was 4 years old," Beamon said. "Despite the scandal stuff, I still think he's a good role model."
No criminal charges have been filed against Patton, but Metro police confirms the department and the district attorney's office are still investigating the allegations.
The 35-year police veteran resigned from the force so the internal investigation against him was suspended.
If you would like to donate money to football league or help renovate the tutorial building you can contact the board by visiting www.UNAbears.org.
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