Local investors and businesses should be hesitant to do business with a sports media company selling advertisements under the guise of local high school sports fundraisers, Edmond Public Schools Athletic Director Mike Nunley and Edmond North Athletic Director Tom Snider said on Thursday morning.
It all started this week when Snider received an advertising banner, sold to Broken Arrow’s Arrow Exterminators, Inc., assumedly to be hung in North’s Siberian Gymnasium. One problem: Edmond North does not allow advertisement banners inside the gym.
Arrow Exterminators said they were under the assumption that they had purchased an advertising package that had been okayed through the school, and that proceeds would benefit the school’s athletes.
“I agreed to $1,400,” said Farrah Fulps, the director of Business Development for the Broken Arrow based extermination company. “Which would include a banner, T-shirts to distribute at games, as well as cups — all with our logo and the school logo for the students to distribute at games.”
But none of this had ever been agreed upon with Edmond Public Schools. And, after the merchandise started to roll in, Snider became concerned.
After Arrow released the company — vaguely named Sports Media — North’s athletic director reached out to the contact he had for the company. It was the second time this school year that Snider had attempted to contact the business, after an email sent from him in September went unaddressed by the company.
On Wednesday, though, the contact replied. In emails released to The Edmond Sun, the employee fired back from a Sports Media email address with an admission:
“I quit working for sports media,” the email began. “They are a scam. You must contest the charge with your (credit card) company and call the attorney general.”
Though the employee reportedly no longer works for the company, emails were made available for the brand’s sales pitch, which featured a hook bent around Edmond North’s upcoming basketball season.
During one of the pitches, an employee — the same one who self-reportedly quit from the company — said that advertising space for 300 T-shirts could be expected to go fast, be placed on the backside of the shirt featuring the school’s mascot, and that “100 percent of the proceeds go directly back to the school.”
The pitch even mentioned that the school’s students would sell the shirts. But none of this was ever approved by Edmond North High School, nor were they or their teams receiving any of the organization’s proposed funds.
The pitch outlined four separate costs for the T-shirt advertisements. The cheapest: a $300 three-by-three inch ad; The priciest: a $800 spotlight advertisement in the middle of the shirt.
Both Nunley and Snider exhibited concerns that the company could be scamming investors in other districts outside of Edmond, too. In the sales emails, it appears that the employee and company were using advertisements with the likeness of Broken Arrow, Westmoore, Plano, Texas, and Garden City High School, alongside unauthorized school sponsorship packages starting at $1,600 and extending to $3,500.
Even after Snider had contacted the company in September and now November, the business is still attempting to sell advertising space under false claims. A potential advertisement purchaser — Executive Vice President and First Fidelity’s President of the Edmond Market James Boggs — called Snider on Thursday, wanting to double check the authenticity of the claims.
Bogg’s hunch paid off, with First Fidelity Bank releasing a statement on Thursday afternoon saying they were not negatively impacted by the recent matter with the third-party Sports Media company.
The alleged scam may have potentially damaged legitimate fundraisers from the school, too, with both Boggs and Fulps stating they love to support Oklahoma’s school districts. But, Fulps admitted that the cost could affect her investment thoughts going forward.
“I absolutely think it is devastating for the schools and students,” she said. “My first thought after realizing it was ‘That’s it, no more school sponsorships.”
Fulps then mentioned that ideology would just hurt the kids even more, and in the future she’ll be more diligent about business partners, while also verifying the legitimacy of the fundraisers with school officials.
In the final emails exchanged Fulps made clear that her business had already contacted their attorney, and Snider mentioned Thursday that EPS was weighing their legal options going forward.