As many as two dozen football players from Fresno State have been implicated in a welfare fraud investigation involving a county Department of Social Services worker accused of filing for false benefits for them and others. It’s the latest in a series of problems that have plagued the university’s athletic department over the decades.
The social services eligibility specialist was arrested last month by an investigator with the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office but has not been charged. University officials have declined to comment beyond a written statement, saying they don’t want to impede the investigation. “It’s an ongoing investigation out of the DA’s office. We don’t comment on ongoing investigations, and that’s what we’re standing on,” said Paul Ladwid, assistant athletic director, who was reached in Nebraska, where the Bulldogs are scheduled to play Saturday.
The allegations involve members of the 2010 squad, and many are still on the team this year. The university said in its written statement that “violations of the Code of Conduct did occur and punitive actions have been levied upon a number of current student-athletes.”
The athletes could face additional penalties once the investigation is complete. School officials would not say how many implicated students are on the 2011 team, nor would they describe the scope of the punishment. “Student-athletes were among the individuals that received benefits from this process, perhaps improperly,” the university’s written statement said.
It’s not the first time Fresno State athletes have been investigated for alleged wrongdoing. In 1996 two members of the basketball team were accused of point shaving — intentionally playing poorly to affect the final score as part of a gambling scheme.
In 2002 the university put its basketball team and athletics department on probation for numerous NCAA rules violations, including payments from agents to players. Three years later the school banned the basketball team from post season play for recruiting violations.
More recently three former female coaches received payments after filing sexual discrimination lawsuits.
In the latest incident, university officials are assuming that all of the players under investigation are still with the team because “no announcements have been made,” that anyone has left, said Shirley Armbruster, associated vice president for university communications.
Sounds like a lot of shadiness goes down at that Fresno State, but isn’t it like that at most colleges?? Especially ones with a good Athletic department? SMH.