"I was asked about the situation on the radio several months ago, and I said if it's a viable option for kids who need to raise their grades to meet admission standards, it could be a good thing," said Monroe, the WVSU coach. "Then, when these kids showed up on our campus and [Hicks] was running from them, I realized something shady was going on, and now, I don't have anything good to say about him, or the operation."
Monroe said prior to Aug. 1, he had heard rumors Hicks had been on campus showing kids around the college.
"Being in over your head and doing things unethically are two different things," he said. "[Hicks] had football scheduled as well as basketball, and he told some of the kids they'd be taking classes at the Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College on our campus, and staying in our dormitories. The football deal folded in early August."
Corey Saunders, 18, of Baltimore, said Hicks took him to the West Virginia State University campus in Institute and told him their sports facilities would be the ones he would use, and that he'd be living on campus in the school's dormitories.
"I wanted to attend [Hicks' school] to get everything I needed to earn a Division 1 scholarship," Saunders said.
One of the deciding factors for Saunders was the game schedule Hicks promoted.
"When I was looking up prep schools and I found their schedule, it was off the charts," he said. "We would have been playing the top prep schools in the nation, and I thought, this can get me the exposure I need.'"
On Sept. 13, another "exemption k" school, Family First Preparatory Academy on Charleston's West Side, closed its doors after a month of classes with no warning to parents. Thirty families were left scrambling to find their children another place to go to school.
James Lynch, a Family First spokesman, said incompetence and money problems led to the shutdown. "It was just mismanagement from the beginning," he said.
Liza Cordeiro, Department of Education spokeswoman, said all someone has to do to start an "exemption k" school is provide the state department a letter of intent identifying an "administrator" and the school's location.
"Otherwise, we as a Department of Education have no other oversight -- anyone can start a school," she said.
Neither Senate Education Chairman Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, nor House Education Chairwoman Mary Poling, D-Barbour, have returned repeated telephone calls on the matter.Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.