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AP helping save juco program in Iowa?


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Vikes star Peterson to save NIACC football?

By KIRK HARDCASTLE, globegazette

MASON CITY — The NIACC football team has hope.

On Tuesday, NIACC officials announced that the school was dropping football, citing budget budget cuts.

But head coach Steve LaLonde said Thursday that Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson is willing to give the program enough money to help get the Trojans through the 2009 season.

“Adrian Peterson has agreed to donate money to our football program, as well as three other NFL players,” said LaLonde. “This was confirmed this morning.

“He has put together a formal package for us through his agent and lawyer. We don’t know the exact amount, but close to $150,000 will be given to the program via Adrian and other NFL players to keep us running through the next season.

He said a proposal was given to NIACC President Debra Derr, Vice President Karen Pierson and Athletic Director Dan Mason about noon Thursday.

“They haven’t given me an answer yet,” he said.

NIACC assistant coach Red Griffith has a tie to the Vikings’ star dating back to Peterson’s high school playing days in Texas.

Mason declined to comment about the proposal on Thursday.

Derr told the Globe Thursday night that she, Mason and Pierson have a meeting scheduled with LaLonde this morning.

She said college officials will need to see an offer in writing before they can make a decision.

However, if an offer is made to keep the program going for one more year, “That would be a miracle. That would be amazing,” she said.

LaLonde said playing the 2009 season will give the players and the program hope for the future.

“We’re hoping that this is enough to at least save the program for six months and let us play our season and let our players get the tape that they need,” LaLonde said.

“It will also give us time to formulate a plan to save the program for the long run, whether it’s going into a Minnesota league if the travel is too much or going out and raising money.”

LaLonde said Peterson was contacted almost immediately after Tuesday’s announcement that the program was being dropped.

“We’re fortunate that coach Griffith knows him,” LaLonde said. “Adrian’s reaction was that he doesn’t want these kids back on the streets.

“They have an opportunity to get better, improve their lives, get an education and play the game they love. He said he’d help any way he can.”

LaLonde said he was hesitant to announce Peterson’s name. But LaLonde said the all-pro gave him the OK.

“Locally, he’s well known,” the coach said. “A lot of people around here are Vikings fans and obviously know that name. I’m glad I can announce it.

“It just shows that we’re not giving up.”

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update: He has never been contacted at all as this was on our local news tonight.

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From my source in Mason City:

"Some assistant coach got carried away on the AP deal; he told the head coach it was a done deal when there was no such thing; he confessed Friday. What a stupid

thing to do."

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update: He has never been contacted at all as this was on our local news tonight.

so with this being said, is AP doing it or not!

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By KIRK HARDCASTLE, globegazette

MASON CITY — Minnesota Vikings all-pro Adrian Peterson never offered to help save the NIACC football program.

Kevin Griffin, who initially was identified as a NIACC assistant coach, told head football coach Steve LaLonde on Thursday that Peterson and three other NFL players were willing to give the school up to $150,000 after it was announced that NIACC was canceling its football program because of budget concerns.

It turns out that wasn’t the case. Griffin said in a phone interview with the Globe Gazette Friday evening that he never spoke with Peterson.

“I made a mistake and anything that comes out of this falls on me,” said Griffin. “Nothing ever came out of Adrian’s mouth.

“I should have said I’ll try to get the money from him and other people.

“I should have given coach LaLonde more info on that. I’m at fault. I want to apologize to him and the school, to Adrian and the Vikings,” Griffin said.

NIACC’s Sethanne DeGabriele, director of marketing and community relations, issued a statement Friday evening:

“NIACC is extremely saddened to learn that the much-publicized potential donations to save the football team that was presented to the administration earlier this week was not able to be substantiated,” the statement read.

DeGabriele also said that the school continues to try to help players transfer to another school with a football program.

“If a student decides to stay at NIACC to pursue his education, his scholarship will be honored,” DeGabriele said.

LaLonde, contacted Friday night, declined comment.

LaLonde told the Globe Gazette on Thursday that Peterson and three other NFL players had agreed to donate money to the NIACC football program.

“This was confirmed this morning,” LaLonde said Thursday. “He has put together a formal package for us through his agent and lawyer. We don’t know the exact amount, but close to $150,000 will be given to the program via Adrian and other NFL players to keep us running through the next season.”

LaLonde said a proposal had been given to NIACC President Debra Derr, Vice President Karen Pierson and Athletic Director Dan Mason about noon Thursday.

Derr said college officials would need to see an offer in writing before they could make a decision, but if an offer was made, “That would be a miracle. That would be amazing.”

Derr said donations of $171,996 would be needed to fund the program for the 2009 season.

College officials had told coaches and players Tuesday — the day spring practice was to begin — that the football program was being terminated as part of efforts by the college to make up about $800,000 in reduced state funding.

Griffin, 32, said Friday he has tried to contact Peterson.

“He’s not taking any phone calls right now,” Griffin said. “It’s a bad situation right now. All the blame goes to me.”

Griffin said he talked to “one of his friends” about possibly having Peterson and other NFL players give money to the program.

“It was a close confidant in his inner circle,” Griffin said. “I haven’t spoken to him (Peterson) and don’t know if I ever will. It’s real bad right now.”

Griffin, who has ties to Peterson dating back to his high school playing days in Palestine, Texas, said the last time he saw Peterson was at an Oklahoma Sooner game last fall.

“We talked for about a minute,” Griffin said.

Griffin said Friday that he doesn’t want to hurt Peterson’s reputation.

“Adrian Peterson is a great guy,” he said. “It was my fault for not having all my facts together.”

Although Griffin was initially identified by NIACC staff as an assistant football coach, DeGabriele said Griffin was invited to help with NIACC’s spring football drills.

“He is not a NIACC employee,” she said.

Griffin is still listed on the Jenks High School in Oklahoma Web site (jenkstrojanfootball.com) as an eighth-grade assistant coach.

“I got here on Monday and got fired on Tuesday,” he said. “I left my fiancee and two children and a great job in Oklahoma.

“Now, I’m scrambling to find a job and obviously this bad press is not helping right now.”

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Too bad folks have to make thing up. It makes too many poeple look bad. I don't believe AP looks bad in all of this however.

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