The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program was meant to help those unable to work because of the novel coronavirus, so Munir McClain assumed that he would qualify. The USC receiver, like so many other college athletes, had spent the previous few months stuck at home, unable to play or practice. The income he earned reselling high-end sneakers, which sometimes yielded up to $1,000 a pair, had slowed during the pandemic, and money was tight.
So he filed for PUA, which in California promised a minimum benefit of $767 per week. Months later, the state accepted his claim, and McClain pocketed the money,with plans to invest it in a new apparel brand he started with his siblings, BeenFree.
But by mid-September, with a postponed football season fast approaching, USC had suspended McClain.
On Sept. 16, Michael Blanton, USC’s vice president of ethics and professionalism, called McClain to ask what he knew about unemployment benefits from the Employment Development Department, according to his mother Shan.
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