FGCU, without a football program, says nationwide 'offers' to play sent by club team

Starting last Sunday, dozens of high school football players around the country posted messages about receiving "offers" from Florida Gulf Coast University.

There's only one problem: FGCU doesn't have an intercollegiate football team. It only has a club team.

On Wednesday, FGCU officials said in a statement that they had been notified that a "non-employee ... has extended 'offers' to come to FGCU and play football to more than 100 individuals across the country."

The statement said those offers were sent by a volunteer with the "football sport club."

"This has been done without FGCU's knowledge or sanction, and has caused a great deal of confusion to not only individuals receiving 'offers' but to others reading accounts on social media," the statement said. "These 100+ individuals may not realize the 'offer' has nothing to do with our NCAA intercollegiate athletics program, or with the normal process that prospective students use to apply and gain admission to the university."

Florida Gulf Coast, a school of about 15,000 students in Fort Myers, Florida, competes in 15 sports at the NCAA Division I level. Football, however, isn't one of them, and school officials said it had no plans to add the sport in the future.

Kevin VanDuser II, the club team coach who recruited high school players from as far away as Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, told ESPN on Wednesday that he and other coaches for the club team made it clear to the players that they would be joining a club team and weren't guaranteed admission to the university.

VanDuser also said he advised players that the school didn't award football scholarships.

VanDuser, who just finished his second season coaching the club team, shared with ESPN the text message that he said he sent to potential prospects.

"We are not in the NCAA and we are not affiliated with the FGCU Athletic department," he wrote in the text message. "Since we are not in the NCAA, we do not have GPA rules or credit requirements. Our players must be enrolled in a minimum of 3 credits (one class) and pay the on campus participation fee, and they are eligible to play for us. ... As a club team, we do not have any scholarships for players. You would have to pay for your schooling and housing, etc."

VanDuser, who works as a realtor, also instructed potential prospects that they could post on social media that they'd been offered a spot on FGCU's club team roster.

"However, please do not post anything false, such as you have been offered a full scholarship or any scholarship please," VanDuser wrote. "Or that you have a D1 offer. We are a club team [and] not D1."

VanDuser said he and the other FGCU coaches met with university officials earlier this week, and they turned over their cell phones to allow their text messages and social media to be examined.

While there might have been confusion about FGCU's "offers," VanDuser said he was only hoping to help student-athletes who might not have had other opportunities.

"My main goal in all of this is to help kids," VanDuser said. "I'm always trying to help kids who might need second chances, and thankfully we've been able to do that."