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Suspended Munir McClain delivers statement; USC responds

The saga of suspended wide receiver Munir McClain and the impending investigation involving McClain, USC and other USC student-athletes likely still has a few twists and turns as more and more pertinent information comes to light. But McClain, his family and representatives organized a press conference on Sunday so that the sophomore wide receiver could deliver a statement in hopes of beginning the process of his reinstatement.

“I want to thank my mom and my family, my fellow Trojan teammates and Najee Ali for their support today and over the past month,” McClain’s written statement began.

“There seem to be a lot of rumors flying around but I want nothing more than to get back to playing with the team.

I can only confirm that I received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which Congress passed back in March to help many people who are not eligible for unemployment benefits, such as gig workers, independent contractors and people with small businesses affected by the pandemic shutdowns.

I applied with the help of a representative from the EDD, the California Employment Development Department, and believe that I did everything right.

I hope that USC will speak to the attorneys who are helping me, Jenna Parker and Mark Hathaway, so I can have a chance to get back on the field as soon as possible. Thank you. Please address any questions to Mr. Ali or to my mom, Shanrika McClain.”

According to the LA Times, multiple USC players will be asked to testify in front of a grand jury regarding an alleged plan to fraudulently file for EDD benefits.

USC issued a statement to Ryan Kartje of the LA Times, in response to the McClain press conference. In it, USC acknowledged that it is cooperating with a “larger investigation.”

McClain’s mother has said that she has not spoken with anyone in the USC Athletics department, but USC’s statement seems to suggest that it considers that the school has conversed with both Munir McClain and Shan McClain about the matter.

The USC 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 and because of the larger investigation with which USC is cooperating.

USC has spoken about this matter with Munir McClain and his mother Shan McClain. We will not discuss those conversations out of respect for student privacy and due to the pending investigation.

Coach Helton has told his team not to engage in rumors, to focus on football, and always to do the right thing. If a player or his family chooses to address the media concerning a matter that is under investigation, that is entirely their decision. USC remains committed to supporting its exceptional student-athlete community.”

Several players attended the press conference on Sunday, including wide receiver Tyler Vaughns, cornerback Adonis Otey and true freshmen offensive tackles Courtland Ford and Casey Collier.

USC head coach Clay Helton initially announced just before the beginning of fall camp that McClain had been indefinitely suspended from the team.

Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.

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