Report: USC Trojans suspended Munir McClain amid unemployment benefits probe

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The USC Trojans suspended sophomore wide receiver Munir McClain last month in connection with a possible federal fraud investigation centered on alleged misuse of unemployment benefits, the Los Angeles Times reported

McClain applied for financial relief from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program after his source of income — reselling high-end shoes — had slowed during the COVID-19 global pandemic, and he assumed he qualified. 

Sometimes, a pair would go for $1,000, and California's PUA has a minimum benefit of $767 a week, The Times reported. 

While college students don't qualify under the normal unemployment insurance policy, the new, temporary program expanded benefit eligibility to include gig workers, independent contractors, self-employed workers, part-time workers and individuals with a limited work history. In April, The Department of Labor announced that full-time students who work part-time jobs were also eligible if they met certain requirements. 

The state accepted his claim and McClain planned to invest it into an apparel brand he and his siblings created. However, on Sept. 16, USC’s Vice President of Ethics and Professionalism Michael Blanton called McClain to see if he knew anything about employment benefits from the Employment Development Department, said his mother Shan. 

Two days later, he was suspended and Shan called Blanton for an explanation. He said a complaint had been filed concerning USC students and a plan to apply for EDD benefits and that her son's name was mentioned. A lawyer representing the McClain family told The LA Times that they will challenge the suspension. 

Earlier this week, two federal agents went to Munir's dorm room, which he shares with his older brother and USC redshirt sophomore linebacker Abdul-Malik. The LA Times reported that the special agents from the U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General were looking for Abdul-Malik, who was not present at the time and left their business card with Munir. 

The LA Times said Abdul-Malik was not the only USC football player approached about Munir. USC and the investigators have yet to interview Munir, according to the report. 

"We are cooperating with the authorities," USC said in a statement. "We understand there may be many questions and concerns, but we are unable to discuss this matter because of our obligation to protect students' privacy."