Fresno State Football is in the news again. This time it's not for having upset a highly ranked team, but it's for investigations into illegal benefits allegedly received by two dozen Fresno State Football players. Michael Martin, formerly known as a eligibility specialist for the county's welfare program, had his house searched via warrant from the DA's office. The cause? Martin was being accused of giving Electronic Benefit Transfer cards to those who were ineligible.
Allegedly, 24 Fresno State Football players were given fradulent cards by this man and were used extensively. The identity of these players has been completely concealed, even to the point that we don't know whether these players graduated after the 2010 season or are still part of the team for this season. One thing that is for certain is that the university is investigating the claims.
"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.
The improperly part is still to be determined, well at least according to Matt Burgemeister, compliance officer for the WAC.
"From what we were told, it wasn't given to student athletes based on participation or ability," Burgemeister said. "This is something, at least from what I understand, that there were many more Fresno residents and even beyond Fresno involved in. It was because they were a member of the Fresno community, not the football team."
The definition of improper benefits are benefits of pretty much any kind that are given to players simply because they are on the football (or basketball team). It's up to the NCAA, WAC, and Fresno State Athletic Department to decide whether this would be considered improper benefits, but the amount certainly would be large if they are determined to be improper. $39,267 spread across 24 players to be exact.