MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Pages of court documents reveal a Gulf Shores-based fitness company was paying monthly rent for apartments where at least four high school athletes and their families lived.
That is, until Gulf Coast Athletics quit making monthly rent payments at One Club apartments and were sued for more than $20,000.
Gulf Coast Athletics is named in three lawsuits filed by 100 Emerald Green, LLC, the owner of the apartment complex.
Leasing documents obtained by WKRG News 5 Sports show that Gulf Coast Athletics and it’s owner Jason Barnett was the party responsible for paying monthly rent on three units.
At least four Gulf Shores High School student-athletes and their families lived in two apartment units paid for by Gulf Coast Athletics.
Sources tell WKRG Sports that these court documents are one reason why the AHSAA is scheduled to return to campus to investigate potential eligibility violations. When reached by phone Tuesday, AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs, said “no comment.”
In the case of Apartment #1 — a lease was executed in April of 2021 for a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom unit with a monthly rent amount of $1595. Records show that Jason Barnett electronically signed the lease contract on behalf of his company Gulf Coast Athletics – the party responsible to pay rent. However, the occupants listed on the apartment lease include a current Gulf Shores football player and four of his immediate family members.
In January of 2021, approximately three months before the lease began, that Dolphins football player listed as an occupant of Apartment #1 publicly announced his plans to transfer to Gulf Shores High School from Alexandria High School.
A lawsuit filed in October of 2022 shows the occupants of Apartment #1 were evicted due to $9560.47 in unpaid rent and fees. In December 2022, the owners of One Club were awarded a $13,594.75 judgement to be paid by Gulf Coast Athletics/owner Jason Barnett.
WKRG Sports spoke with attorney Andrew Harrell — who represents the owners of One Club. Harrell says that nearly a year later, they’re still trying to collect money owed by Gulf Coast Athletics/Jason Barnett.
“We filed a suit for unlawful detainer to remove Gulf Coast Athletics from the property for failing to pay rent,” said Harrell. “We obtained judgements for possession of the property and for unpaid rent. We have made efforts to try to collect on that unpaid rent and we’ve been unsuccessful so far.”
In the case of Apartment #2 — A second lawsuit filed in October 2022 reveals another lease agreement dated November 12th, 2021 between One Club and Gulf Coast Athletics for a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom unit with a monthly rent amount of $1845. Again, Gulf Coast Athletics is listed as the party responsible to pay rent. There are no specific occupants listed for the unit — however that document was digitally signed by the mother of a current Gulf Shores softball player.
A public search revealed at least two immediate family members of three Dolphins student-athletes were listed as residents in Apartment #2; one current Gulf Shores softball player and two Gulf Shores football players who graduated in 2022. All three student-athletes transferred to Gulf Shores from Oxford High School in 2021.
Further research by WKRG revealed that one of the adult occupants of Apartment #2, the father of two GSHS student-athletes, was hired by Gulf Shores City Schools as a custodian at the Middle School.
The occupants of Apartment #2 were evicted due to $9,515 in unpaid rent and fees. In December 2022, the owners of One Club were awarded a $13,828.28 judgement to be paid by Gulf Coast Athletics/owner Jason Barnett.
In August of 2023, a garnishment was issued for a bank account in Barnett’s name for a sum of $8801.50, but could not be processed due to insuffient funds.
The court has ordered property to be seized at Gulf Coast Athletics. But, Harrell says that’s also been a challenge.
“We were trying to locate where Gulf Coast Athletics was and get some information before we try to seize property. I don’t know if they have a current location or not,” Harrell said.
The physical address for Gulf Coast Athletics is an office suite at the Wharf in Orange Beach. When WKRG went to the address, we noticed the Gulf Coast Athletics sign on the door of the suite has recently been removed.
Several voicemails and messages to GCA owner Jason Barnett were not returned.
The attorney representing One Club says his client had no prior knowledge that the kids and families listed as occupants in their apartments, paid for Gulf Coast Athletics, were affiliated with Gulf Shores High School Athletics.
“My clients have no relationship whatsoever with Mr. Barnett or Gulf Coast Athletics. We have no knowledge about the purpose of the rentals or the specific people they had living in them. My clients just leased spaces to Gulf Coast Athletics,” said Harrell.
In a statement to WKRG Wednesday, Gulf Shores Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matt Akin said in part:
“This year there are over 100 new transfers on campus of which only nine of those are football student-athletes. We have a very detailed enrollment process and I am convinced that we are doing things in the right way.”
Sources tell WKRG Sports Director Simone Eli that the AHSAA will be on the Gulf Shores High School campus on Monday to further investigate recent student-athlete transfers.