Osi Umenyiora is a top of the line quarterback-pursuing defensive end for the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. But right now he’s the one scrambling - thanks to the news that his charity is deeply in debt thanks to mismanagement.
His foundation, Strike 4 A Cure, is co-managed by his brother, Jim. The two put on a recent charity bowling event that was an absolute gutterball. And now the duo could be facing punishment from the IRS.
From Cameron McWhirter at THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION:
[T]he “Strike 4 a Cure” weekend — centered on a celebrity bowling tournament — wasn’t the success it claimed. It was a financial flop, costing the brothers hundreds of thousands of dollars — $40,000 this year alone, Jim Umenyiora said.
The charity claimed the May weekend had raised lots of money and that “Strike 4 a Cure” had federal tax-exempt status. Both assertions are false.
Jim Umenyiora, the head of Make Plays for Africa, told the AJC: “I’m not disputing anything you’re saying. You’re right.”
It appears unlikely that the Umenyioras were intentionally misleading everyone. Jim claims that he and his brother are the victims of bad advice and he’s executing a blitz of his own to get a handle on things:
The brothers have canceled any further charity weekends. Jim Umenyiora said he also was firing the public relations company and shutting down the charity Web site. From now on, Make Plays for Africa will not accept donations unless it gets federal tax-exempt status, he said.
The “Strike 4 a Cure” Web site, the public face of a organization that has no office, prominently displayed Osi Umenyiora’s football career and posted video of key plays. It also displayed photos of the parties. It had no video or photographs of anything to do with charity work.
Mark Green, the IRS’s spokesman in Atlanta, said that if organizations “knowingly mislead” donors about having tax-exempt status, “they can be subject to Internal Revenue Service enforcement actions.”
Older brother Jim was all too willing to concede that their foundation needs a change of direction:
Jim Umenyiora said he didn’t set out to mislead anyone. He said what little money was raised through donations was all passed on to tax-exempt organizations, with nothing taken out for administration.
The site urged donors to contact them about the group’s 501(c)3 status. “Strike 4 a Cure” claimed to have raised $70,000 that first year, but Jim Umenyiora said that’s not true.
“It was all out of my brother’s pocket,” he said. “It’s not bringing in any money.”
The Umenyioras are hoping their foundation can engineer a comeback.
Umenyiora said he plans to launch a revamped Web site, MakePlaysforAfrica.org, in about two weeks.
He said the charity eventually is going to succeed.
“In three years, we will get there,” he said. “My brother and I want this to work.”
A suggestion to the NFL: instead of making me sit through all of those intolerable United Way ads during games, why not lend help to guys like Osi who want to do charity work on their own? There’s no reason that the NFL and its players can’t share legal capital and financial wisdom and get some of these organizations off the ground more effectively.
Not only does it benefit the communities of the players (who may or may not hail from NFL cities), it also sets up a purpose for these guys that they can fulfill once their playing days are over.
Jim and Osi struck out on their own, but hopefully they’ll be spared by Uncle Sam and find their groove in the next frame.