JaMarcus Russell out as high school volunteer coach, sued over $74K donation intended for alma mater

The 2007 No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick was removed as a volunteer assistant last fall

November 15, 2009: Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell #2 passes while Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Andy Studebaker #96 is about to sack him on Sunday, November 15, 2009 at Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 16-10. (Photo by Al Golub/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Former Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell is being sued for allegedly keeping a donation that was intended for his alma mater. (Photo by Al Golub/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

JaMarcus Russell is facing a lawsuit that accuses the 2007 No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick of taking money that was meant for the football program at Williamson High School, his alma mater.

According to WKRG, Russell accepted a $74,000 check from Chris Knowles, a local business owner, that was meant as a donation to help the football program purchase weight room equipment. The money was allegedly never given to the school and the former Raiders quarterback reportedly deposited the check into a credit union and then withdrew $55,000.

Knowles, a lifelong LSU fan, says Russell approached him in the summer of 2022 about making a donation to help Williamson football purchase weight-room equipment. After writing the $74,000 check out to Russell, Knowles said he later stopped payment on the check when Russell wouldn’t provide a receipt of the donation and quit returning his phone calls.

Navigator Credit Union is suing Russell for nearly $55,000 of the check, which was paid to him on the same day of the deposit. The lawsuit was filed in March 2023 and says the money was "lent" to Russell by the credit union upon his request.

In November 2023, Russell filed a counterclaim against Knowles for stopping payment on the check. Russell admitted depositing the money but claims no wrongdoing.

A trial is set to begin in October.

Russell joined the Williamson football team coaching staff in 2018 and was removed as a volunteer assistant last fall.

Mobile County Public Schools would only cite personnel matters as the reason for removing Russell and did not confirm if the lawsuit is what led to the decision.

MCPS said in a statement to WKRG that Russell is not permitted to be around the team or on school campus.

Russell, 38, started 25 games for the Raiders over three seasons after being drafted in 2007.