Fresno State officials self-reported on Dec. 10 a rules violation to the NCAA after an investigation into an allegation that men’s basketball player Melvin Ely received an improper benefit. The self-report indicated that a friend of Ely, not Ely himself, received an improper benefit, a hotel room, from a sports agent. Ely has consistently maintained that he was unaware of his friend’s arrangements for a hotel room and the university’s investigation found no evidence to contradict Ely’s statement.

NCAA rules prohibit friends and relatives of college athletes, as well as the athletes themselves, from receiving improper benefits such as free meals or gifts from sports agents. Once the rule violation was determined, the university self-reported the problem to the NCAA.

Today the NCAA determined, as a result of the self-reported rule violation, that Ely is required to sit out 20 percent of the season, or six games. Since Ely has already been held out of four games, he will return to play at the game against San Jose State at the Compaq Center in San Jose on Dec. 29.

Once it learned of the decision today, Fresno State immediately requested that the NCAA provide precedents for this type of penalty. NCAA officials have assured the university that they will provide such information by Friday, Dec. 21. Once that information is received, the university will immediately review those precedents with legal counsel and determine if a formal appeal will be filed in the matter.

“Although the university remains fully committed to complying with NCAA rules, we are very concerned about the impact of this decision on Melvin Ely, the basketball program and our fans,” said Scott Johnson, Fresno State’s interim athletic director.

There will be a continuing review of the matter by the university and the NCAA, and should any additional information be found, the university will then take appropriate action at that time.