Terri Vittoria wouldn’t be denied. Not even the macular degeneration slowly stealing her eyesight would stop her.
Her grandson, she decided, wouldn't be denied, either.
Edward Fahey didn’t want to chase anybody around for $500, but said his son earned that money.
On Friday, the Inquirer revealed that West Catholic football coach Brian Fluck had stepped down as president of the Philadelphia City All-Star Football Game’s executive committee amid an internal investigation into missing funds.
The next morning, readers stepped forward, some of whom have children who they say never received scholarship money awarded by the committee. Some eventually received the money, but not when they expected, and certainly not the way they expected.
Members of the all-star game’s executive committee planned to meet Tuesday night to discuss financial and legal options.
As of Tuesday, several athletes and their families from the Catholic and Public leagues say that, from 2010 to 2018, they didn’t receive scholarship awards from $500 to more than $1,000.
Last week, Fluck declined to comment on the accusations of missing funds. On Tuesday evening, asked to respond to the families’ claims that they did not receive the scholarships, Fluck replied in a text message that he had no comment and said that all questions should be directed to his attorney, Richard F. Klineburger. A voicemail left for Klineburger was not returned.
Terri Vittoria, 63, graduated from the West Catholic Girls’ High School in 1973 before it eventually merged with the West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Boys. In 2013, the school at 45th and Chestnut Streets in West Philadelphia officially changed its name to West Catholic Preparatory High School.
That same year, Vittoria’s grandson, Joe Hartley-Vittoria attended Bonner-Prendergast as a freshman.
As a sophomore, the 5-foot-7, 180-pound running back finished second on the team in receiving yards. By junior year, he led the team in rushing (555 yards) and was named a captain. In his senior season, Hartley-Vittoria again led the team with 1,008 rushing yards, scored nine touchdowns, and earned a scholarship to Franklin and Marshall. That year, he was also selected for the 2017 City All-Star Non-Public football team, the first season the Friars were included in the event that began in 1975.
Terri Vittoria couldn’t attend the banquet at The Cannstatter Club on Academy Road that year, but, Hartley-Vittoria, the oldest of her eight grandchildren, sent her a photo of the $500 scholarship award he received that night.
Pride became frustration, however, when weeks turned into months, as Hartley-Vittoria, now 20, did not receive the money before his first semester in college.
Vittoria says repeated phone calls to Fluck, the name listed on the scholarship paperwork, went unanswered.
Bonner-Prendie coach Jack Muldoon, who just finished his third season as Friars coach, told the Inquirer he also attempted to contact Fluck “several times” on the family’s behalf.
The grandson Vittoria calls “my heart” and “my little man” didn’t receive the money until Feb. 2, 2019, at around noon -- after completing his sophomore season in November.
That’s when, Terri Vittoria says, Fluck drove to her home in Ardmore and hand-delivered a sealed, white envelope with $500 in cash inside.
“I was expecting him to bring a check with the organization’s name on it,” she said in a phone interview.
She added that she had threatened to notify the media weeks before Fluck arrived with the money. Around Christmas in 2018, she says she left a voicemail, threatening to call 6ABC.
On Dec. 28, she says, Fluck called her back and said he would send a check that weekend. The check never came.
“So I said, well, excuse my French, ‘screw this,’ ” said Vittoria, who says she has never missed any of her grandson’s high school or college football games. “I sent him a text message and said, 'If I don’t hear back from you by tonight, I’m going to Channel 6 tomorrow morning. ' ”
It struck her husband, Joe, and son, Salvatore, as odd when Fluck showed up with cash.
“My husband and my son and I thought, ‘Oooh, I wonder if something’s going on here,' ” she said.
The family of 2018 Father Judge graduate Ed Fahey say they also received a phone call from Fluck on Dec. 28 and a promise of the $500 that the 6-foot-1, 201-pound linebacker and tight end was awarded by the committee.
“It’s disappointing,” said his father Edward Fahey, who owns a roofing business. “[Ed] didn’t ask for the money. He was awarded the money for his academics and athletics and this program is supposed to help kids out … ”
Fahey played varsity football for the Crusaders as a junior and senior. In the 2018 City All-Star game, he won defensive MVP for the Non-Public side.
Fahey said he was shocked at The Cannstatter Club in May 2018 when his name was called. His mother, Donna, watched as her son walked up, shook Fluck’s hand, and received an envelope.
“Of course, we were very proud of him,” she said.
The Faheys say the directions inside the envelope said they would need to send proof that Fahey was enrolled in college to Fluck. The family provided copies of the letter and enrollment documents to the Inquirer.
Fahey said he knows of another Catholic League player who was awarded a more substantial scholarship award. He wasn’t sure whether the player received his money. He added, though, that he would rather his $500 go to that player instead.
Fahey enrolled at the Community College of Philadelphia, but decided after a few months that college wasn’t for him. Now he’s working for his dad’s business.
Bill Shaeffer, the father of Archbishop Wood graduate, Billy Shaeffer, who now plays football at Lafayette, said his son also did not get the $500 scholarship he was awarded in 2018.
The family, the father said, isn’t concerned about receiving the $500, but is saddened by the situation.
A 2016 graduate of Parkway Center City who played at Southern was also awarded a $500 scholarship. Now a sophomore at Cheyney, the player, who declined to be named, said he received his $500 in December of his freshman year, but only after repeated requests by his mother.
The father of another Public League player who graduated in 2010 says his son, now 26, also never received his $500. The father declined to be named, but doesn’t want the $500, either.
He added, though, that the situation was “a black eye on Philadelphia football …”