CATEGORY: FOC College Football
HED:MSU investigation continues
By Parrish Alford
Federal investigators remained on the Mississippi State University campus Monday, continuing an investigation into possible Pell Grant fraud involving student-athletes on a nationwide level.
There has been no indication as to when the probe might end. Meanwhile, MSU is taking a big public relations hit, officials say.
"I point blank asked them if they were looking for a specific athlete, coach, staff person or booster," athletic director Larry Templeton said Monday. "Their response was that they have no individual."
Templeton said he asked for a meeting for the athletic department with investigators last Thursday after two days of not being approached by them. He also said investigators have not officially informed MSU President Dr. Donald Zacharias of their presence on campus.
ESPN reported last Tuesday evening that athletes at 22 universities, most of them major football powers, have been targeted by the Department of Education, working in conjunction with the General Accounting Office. A financial aid official at MSU told the Daily Journal Wednesday that he believed the school was chosen purely at random. However, no other school has been named publicly.
ABC News arrived on campus Monday to follow up on the ESPN report.
"The university is taking an unbelievable hit in the national media," said Templeton. "What's ironic is the Department of Education leaked it. Why they picked Mississippi State, I can't answer, nor why they have not mentioned any of the other 20 (-plus) schools."
Templeton said the investigators have called this a "review" more than "investigation" and that investigators told another MSU administrator they would not issue a report when their work is complete.
At the meeting last Thursday Templeton said investigators were "baffled" by the fact that athletic scholarships are paid for within the university system and asked questions relating to the NCAA's investigation of the football program of two years ago.
"They also asked why there were several accounts of student-athletes with better grade point averages than the student body," Templeton said. "I told them that in a lot of cases the student-athletes had to have better grades to stay eligible."