High School Sports

National youth basketball league shuts down, leaves teams in the cold

Some local youth basketball teams have been left scrambling after a national league aimed at bringing elite teams together for top competition suddenly shut down over the weekend.

The Elevate Basketball Circuit, which charged youth basketball teams up to $1,600 to play in a series of games, has shut down operations and teams are simply out of their entry fees. USA Today reported the story Monday, saying Louisville, KY, promoter David Kelly had shut down the circuit, which had signed up more than 1,000 boys and girls teams from fifth grade to high school.

Kelly issued an apology Monday night, saying he was “terribly sorry” and that “our gross revenue could not cover our operating expenses.” Kelly said he received payment from 300 teams, with many paying reduced fees. He said he is pursuing “to move forward.”

There were some N.C. teams, including several from Charlotte, that had been listed as teams in the circuit. The teams were divided geographically and had four regular-season playing dates at sites within their region. For N.C. boys teams, for example, games were scheduled for Norfolk, Va., Atlanta, Charlotte and Myrtle Beach.

Efforts by the Observer to reach Kelly were unsuccessful.

Vince Jacobs, president of the Charlotte Basketball Club, says he paid a discounted rate of $800 per team to put in two boys and two girls teams from his organization in the Elevate Basketball Circuit. The girls were 5th grade and 9th grade. The boys teams were 5th and 7th. Jacobs’ CBC teams were all scheduled to play in the Elevate tour stop in Atlanta last weekend. Jacobs said some of his teams didn’t play because of N.C. AAU state tournament qualifying last weekend. He said all four teams did play in the first weekend of EBC play: boys in Norfolk, Va., and girls in Charlotte.

Jacobs said over the weekend he began hearing from other Elevate teams who had gone to Atlanta only to discover that no games were being played. He said there was a conference call held among disgruntled teams and talk of a lawsuit has begun to recover fees.

Jacobs said he was scheduled to serve as site host for the Elevate tour stop in Charlotte April 24-26. He had paid for several gym sites in advance after Kelly told him to expect 150 teams and to get 80 percent of the gate. Jacobs estimates that would have earned his organization a $5,000 payday, huge for a non-profit AAU basketball club.

Now, he said he’s stuck with the bill he paid to join EBC – and he’s stuck with the bill he paid to rent gyms for EBC.

“We made the decision (Monday) morning to scale back and do our own Mom and Pop tournament (April 24-26),” Jacobs said. “We’ll get in the lawsuit to try to get our money back for team fees. It’s sad.

The Elevate Basketball website, which had previously been taken down, was restored Monday night, with a link to Kelly’s statement.

Here is the full text:

EBC Friends, Family and Customers:

I wanted to share our current circumstance with everyone interested. It has been a difficult few days at the EBC. As the creator of the EBC, I had a dream of building an exciting basketball platform for young boys and girls from all over the country. Many of you shared that dream and vision and helped me by enlisting teams and spreading the word. I want to thank all the coaches who have been supportive and who continue to be supportive of our efforts and vision.

I understand many people are disappointed and angry at our actions. As there have been many reports of our status in the media, I wanted to share our sobering reality.

Although it seemed like we had strong support, we ultimately received payment from less than 300 teams with many teams paying reduced fees. Our gross revenue could not cover operating expenses. Very few staff got paid and most of our staff, including myself, never took a pay check.

In the end, our cash flow could not cover our operating costs in both the short term and the long term. We simply did not run a very good business and could not raise enough capital to cover this reality.

This statement is not to not make excuses. It is just to share our situation. I am terribly sorry to all our athletes, coaches and sponsors.

We are currently in discussions with several groups who can help. We are doing all we can to raise the capital or sell parts of the company to move forward.

We will try to provide updates on this web site when we can.

David Kelly Sr,

President of Elevate Basketball Circuit