BY SARAH STEPHENS, OWNER/EDITOR
Some people dream about things. Some people talk about things. According to Dusty DeVaughn, of Slapout, that with perseverance and corporate sponsors has led to contracts, deals and plans that would create The USA Academy on 115 acres in Coosada, Alabama.
The website can be found at theusaacademy.com.
“It is going to be something…it is the buzz,” DeVaughn told the Elmore/Autauga News.
A press conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 2 at the Montgomery Marriott Prattville Hotel & Conference Center at Capitol Hill in Prattville. This will include a lot more detail, as well as the introduction of Rush Probst, who has reportedly been tagged to lead the creation of the football team at the school.
DeVaughn said Propst will be present at the press conference and introduced. “Propst will be moving to this area,” he said.
Propst served as head coach at Hoover High School from 1999 to 2007. He won five state championships, and Devaughn said he was recently a volunteer consultant at the University of Birmingham (UAB) in 2019 working with his former assistant Coach Bill Clark of Prattville High School fame.
USA Today reported, “’Ultimate Student Athletes’ will document Propst’s journey in building the football program from scratch. The show will be distributed starting in late 2020 to on demand platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. Exclusive content will also be available on the UltimateStudentAthletes.com website.”
DeVaughn said his goals from the beginning were simple. He wanted to make tuition affordable and accessible for student athletes and their families. Secondly, an education approved by the NCAA curriculum. Finally, hire the best coaching staff in the country to place The USA Academy in the spotlight nationally.
DeVaughn said the 19,000 square foot football facility will include a 5,000-seat stadium and will rival FBS programs. It will include a state-of-the art locker room, training and custom workout areas, nutrition bar, film rooms, classrooms, offices and a student-athlete lounge.
The stadium’s press box will Include private access to corporate suites, coaching suites and much more.
“I am excited about the LED lighting,” DeVaughn said with a smile. He explained it will be red, white and blue, with the capability to do light shows.
There is a plan for dormitories in the future, to house students from out of state, DeVaughn said
It is a lot to take in, he admits.
The school is designed to attract top athletes from local areas and across the country, with a big focus on academics. It will have an NCAA approved curriculum, but operate as an independent school, DeVaughn said.
“We have already heard from 300 students from across the country who want to be recruited,” DeVaughn said.
If all of this is news to you, that is kind of by design, DeVaughn said. He wanted to keep it in the shadows, short of getting proper permits and working with the City of Coosada.
USA Today first reported on the story this week, and since then DeVaughn said he has interviewed with media agencies from across the country. Locally, the news is just beginning to spread.
This dream began back in September of 2019, first as a way to create a school designed to offer better opportunity for athletes and academics. It has grown in scope, with sponsors coming forward that will have the rights to the name on the stadium, performance area, locker room, etc.
It is not an inexpensive venture, DeVaughn admits.
“In the beginning I funded it by myself, then my family stepped in and I have no problem telling everyone I was dead broke,” DeVaughn said. But since then, the sponsors coming forward from across the country have led to big plans.
So, why Coosada, Alabama?
Truthfully, DeVaughn said he considered his hometown of Slapout initially. It could have gone either way. But in the end he chose to use 115 acres of family land off Lynn Drive in Coosada.
“It makes sense, because there is nothing really out there now,” DeVaughn said. “There aren’t a lot of residences, just a lot of land. And I think that there is something significant about a school like this being located next to cattle and hay fields. We are Alabama.”
As for the stadium, the buildings and the equipment, DeVaughn said it will all be top notch with no expense spared.
The focus will not just be on football, he said. Other programs will come online as well including cheer, softball, baseball and more. For a video showing the property and DeVaughn speaking of where areas will be developed, visit https://www.facebook.com/sarah.dawn.56884
“I am just a crazy fat boy from Slapout, Alabama that wouldn’t take ‘No’ for an answer from anyone,” DeVaughn said. He admits a lot of people tried to kill his dream before it got off the ground.
“This is so promising for academics and athletics in our area. I just am tired of seeing Alabama ranked 49th in the country academically and dead last in mathematics,” he said. “It does not have to be that way.”
This has been a huge learning curve for him, he says. “But I have been working with educational leaders from across the country and in our state. We have worked with some of the best in the country utilizing their knowledge and experience.”
As for the reported agreements with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, DeVaughn said filming on the reality show is set to begin Jan. 20.
“Back in September 2019 I was just frustrated,” DeVaughn said. “Because I have been homeschooling our kids for eight years. We were participating in homeschool athletics, but it just wasn’t being done right. There were no resources and no funding. I have nothing bad to say overall, at least they were trying. But nobody was doing it the right way. Athletics in Alabama is a passion, and no one is doing anything about the problem.”
The school will be tuition based, in the area of $7,500 a year.
After growing up in Slapout, DeVaughn attended Auburn University. He played professional golf and traveled the world, he said. He has three sons, ages 18, 17 and 13 and has been married to his wife, Amanda, since 2010.
He has been self-employed since the age of 19, and is the owner of Ninja Solutions Inc., and IT Development company with a side in Credit Repair.
The public is invited to attend the press conference Thursday with any questions or for more information.
Some people dream, some people talk. If this plan comes to be, it is going to have a huge impact in our area. Stay tuned…