Former NFL QB, JaMarcus Russell, Sued over $74k Donation Intended for Alma Mater

Lawsuit Alleges Russell Cashed Check Meant for Williamson High School Football Program

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Former NFL No. 1 overall draft pick and LSU standout quarterback JaMarcus Russell is facing a lawsuit over a $74,000 check written as a donation for the football program at his alma mater, Williamson High School.

Russell, who joined the Williamson football staff in 2018, was removed as a volunteer assistant coach in the middle of last season. "JaMarcus Russell was relieved of his volunteer coaching duties at Williamson High School during the fall of last year," Mobile County Public School officials told WKRG Sports.

MCPSS did not provide details on what led to the decision to remove Russell from the Williamson staff, citing personnel matters. Officials for the school system could not confirm if the lawsuit played a role in the decision.

According to court documents, JaMarcus Russell deposited and cashed a $74,000 check at Navigator Credit Union in July 2022. Chris Knowles, who wrote the check, tells Nexstar's WKRG Sports Director Simone Eli that the money was a donation to the Williamson football program on behalf of his business Selwonk Enterprises, a local building company.

Sources close to the Williamson program, with knowledge of the situation, say the Lions never saw any of the money. 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.

"JaMarcus Russell was relieved of his volunteer coaching duties at Williamson High School during the fall of last year."

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

When reached by phone on Friday, attorney Donald Briskman, who represents Russell, said he could not comment on the case.

Eight months after the lawsuit filed against Russell, the former NFL quarterback filed a counterclaim against Knowles for stopping payment on the check. Russell admits to depositing the check, but denies wrongdoing, per court documents.

The case is set to go to trial in October.

Sources close to the Williamson football program tell WKRG Sports that Russell recently attended an off-campus event where the Lions football team was competing — prompting a letter from MCPSS to Williamson staff members.

"Earlier this week, it was reiterated to Mr. Russell that he is not permitted to be around the football program or on school campus," MCPSS officials said in a statement to WKRG.

Russell was a star quarterback at Williamson and signed to play at LSU in 2003. He threw for 6,625 yards and 52 touchdowns in three years before turning pro. Russell was the top pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by Oakland. In three seasons (2007-2009) with the Raiders, Russell recorded 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He earned more than $36.4 million in salary and bonuses during his NFL career.

Russell is widely regarded as the NFL's biggest draft bust.