A Green Country youth basketball team said it lost thousands of dollars after they joined a new national league that shut down after its first weekend of games.
One coach said his team was made promises that weren't kept.
The OBO Balloholics basketball team is made up of seventh through tenth graders, all with a lot of talent and the hope their skills will pay for college.
That's why they're working so hard, and trying not to let a setback get in the way of the game they love.
For Garrett Williams and his teammates, the basketball court is their home away from home.
“I just like competition,” he said.
It's the place they go to put in the work and to help make their dreams come true.
“I want play for North Carolina, and if I make it to the pros I want to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Williams said.
To get there, athletes don't just need raw talent; they have to get their names out there.
That's exactly what Coach Rod Hall said he was promised when approached by Elevate Basketball Circuit, a new national league with 1,400 teams.
Hall said the president, David Kelly, told him D1 scouts would be at every game. He claimed the new league would change the way youth basketball was played.
"He was gonna make it safer for all the kids, as well as to make it to where each team had to adhere to an honor system, no cheating,” Hall said.
But Hall said the man who promised fairness on the court took from his players off the court.
The team put about $5,000 into the league to pay for fees and uniforms, money the players worked hard to raise themselves.
"He basically sold us a dream and then ran off that dream and the money," said Hall.
Three games, that's all the team played as a part of the EBC before learning through a text message the league was closed.
“To shut it down after one week of games, confusing I guess you could say. We don't understand,” said Hall.
Seventh grade player, Hunter Hoggatt said, "Why would you take kids' money cause most people want kids' dreams to come true and why would he take the money for someone not to get a chance to go to college."
At this point, he said it doesn't look like his team will see a refund.
The president of EBC put out a statement on his website saying:
EBC Friends, Family and Customers:
I wanted to share our current circumstance with everyone interested. It has been a difficult few days at the EBC. As the creator of the EBC, I had a dream of building an exciting basketball platform for young boys and girls from all over the country. Many of you shared that dream and vision and helped me by enlisting teams and spreading the word. I want to thank all the coaches who have been supportive and who continue to be supportive of our efforts and vision.
I understand many people are disappointed and angry at our actions. As there have been many reports of our status in the media, I wanted to share our sobering reality.
Although it seemed like we had strong support, we ultimately received payment from less than 300 teams with many teams paying reduced fees. Our gross revenue could not cover operating expenses. Very few staff got paid and most of our staff, including myself, never took a pay check.
In the end, our cash flow could not cover our operating costs in both the short term and the long term. We simply did not run a very good business and could not raise enough capital to cover this reality.
This statement is not to not make excuses. It is just to share our situation. I am terribly sorry to all our athletes, coaches and sponsors.
We are currently in discussions with several groups who can help. We are doing all we can to raise the capital or sell parts of the company to move forward.
We will try to provide updates on this web site when we can. David Kelly Sr, President of Elevate Basketball Circuit.
On the court, the teenagers will say it takes dedication and mental toughness, two things that will certainly help take them to the next level, new league or not.
“We are like brothers, so we always stick together,” Williams said.
The EBC president was working out of Kentucky and Hall said the FBI is investigating.
It was originally said that 1,400 teams would be in the league, but Kelly said only 300 paid.
At $1,600 a team, that would be nearly half a million dollars - although Kelly claims he never received a paycheck.
As for the team, an online fundraising campaign has been set up to help pay to join another league, or at least pay entry fees.