ATHENS -Jim Donnan, who was Georgia's head football coach from 1996-2000, has been formally accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of helping run an $80 million Ponzi scheme.
This court filing shows that the SEC believes Donnan and a co-defendant, Gregory L. Crabtree, helped bilk 97 investors.
Donnan, 67, still lives in Athens. He could not be reached for comment. He had served as a college football commentator on ESPN until recently.
In his five years as Georgia's coach, Donnan's teams were 40-19 overall and 25-15 in the SEC. He was fired following the 2000 season, when his team was 8-4, and eventually replaced by Mark Richt.
The filing by the SEC states that between "at least" August 2007 and mid-October of 2010, Donnan and Crabtree offered and sold high-yielding, short term (2-12 month) investments in their company. The SEC filing alleges that the company "promised annualized effective rates of return ranging from 50% to 380%."
As a result, Donnan and Crabtree are alleged to have raised about $80 million from 97 investors, including some of Donnan's former players and some coaching colleagues. The filing alleges that only $12 million of the investments was used to purchase merchandise, and much of it was left unsold and in warehouses in Ohio and West Virginia.
"Donnan recruited the majority of the investors," the filing reads.
It goes on to state:
"In some instances involving former players, Donnan used his influence to convince them to invest. For example, when approaching a former player that Donnan had coached, Donnan told him “Your Daddy is going to take care of you” and “if you weren’t my son, I wouldn’t be doing this for you.” That player later invested $800,000."
None of the player's names or other investors is named.
According to court filings last year, among the coaches who invested were Barry Switzer, Frank Beamer, Dennis Franchione and Tommy Tuberville.