Team name prompts dispute in Fort Bend youth football league
FRESNO, Texas – More than 100 Fort Bend County kids have been kicked out of a youth football league because of a dispute over their team name.
The Fort Bend Youth Football League expelled the Fresno Gators from the organization in August.
The league says Fresno had the same name as another team in the league and wouldn't change it after being given two years to make the adjustment.
"No two teams can have the same name," said Jacqueline Jean-Baptiste, the executive director of the Fort Bend Youth Football League. "Anything with the word Gators had to be immediately removed and then the higher-ticket items, like uniforms, was a phase-out program. If you're not in compliance, we will remove you from our league."
When the Fresno Gators were voted into the league in 2013, the team's president told KPRC 2 News he did agree to make the changes and dropped the name Gators. However, he claimed the league later decided to let his team keep its logo.
"As the second year came around, the league gave me my logo back," said Anthony Joubert, the president of the Fresno Gators.
Joubert claimed he spent nearly $8,000 on uniforms with the team logo, only to be told a year later that league officials changed their minds and wanted it changed once again.
"Jackie said the vote was invalid," said Joubert. "They were reimbursing us nothing."
FBYFL expelled the Fresno team at the end of August.
Several Fresno parents told KPRC 2 News that they were not aware of the team name and logo problem until their team was booted out of the league.
"We were never notified of anything, I'd never gotten an email, nobody ever came out here," said Julianne Torres.
The parents said they are upset that the team was expelled from the league during the season.
"Why not let them continue and just finish the season?" said Torres. "My son says, 'Mommy, why are we out of the league?' 'You didn't do anything wrong.' 'Well, why don't they like us?'"
"We don't want to throw them out to the world to start getting involved in crime or anything like that. At the end of the day, I don't care about anything else, bottom line, let's let the kids be kids and have the opportunity to be apart of something," said Barbara Evans. "I was completely and totally devastated."
The league offered to place the kids into other teams without requiring their parents to pay any new fees.
"We care about every child, but also about our rules, and every rule in our rule book is important," said Jean-Baptiste.
"These kids have been playing together for two years and up," said Evans. "They've developed a bond. They've developed a respect for the coaches, we are a family."
The Fresno Gators said they now plan to sue the Fort Bend Youth Football League.
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