Fresno State

Complaints lead to investigation into Fresno State lacrosse program

The Fresno State women’s lacrosse team celebrates after scoring a goal against San Diego State in 2017. The program is under investigation and faces an uncertain future, playing in a three-team conference that has made no commitment beyond a 2020 season..
The Fresno State women’s lacrosse team celebrates after scoring a goal against San Diego State in 2017. The program is under investigation and faces an uncertain future, playing in a three-team conference that has made no commitment beyond a 2020 season..

Fresno State is awaiting a final report on an external investigation into its women’s lacrosse program that was initiated after university and athletics department officials received complaints from former players and parents about coach Jessica Giglio as well as the culture and state of the program.

Among the allegations are poor treatment of players, mismanagement of the program and potential NCAA violations, according to letters obtained by The Bee.

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Fresno State women’s lacrosse coach Jessica Giglio walks the sideline during a 2012 Bulldogs game. The program had been under investigation after university and athletics department officials received complaints from former player and parents about Giglio and the state of the program.

The probe is being conducted by Bond, Schoeneck & King, the same firm that handled an investigation into the strength and conditioning, training and medical staffs at Fresno State during and after a summer conditioning workout in 2016 where offensive lineman Shane Gama suffered from heatstroke.

The athletics department acknowledged the investigation in a statement: “At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Fresno State athletics received correspondence from student-athlete’s parents expressing concerns surrounding the lacrosse program.

“After an internal athletic review, the firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King was retained by the California State University office of general counsel to begin the process of an external review of the program.

“That review is ongoing and Fresno State athletics will have no further comment until the completion of the review.”

The university denied a public records request from The Bee to inspect any exit interviews with student-athletes that might have shed light on the allegations, citing the ongoing investigation and confidentiality issues.

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Fresno State’s Kayla Galet, center, moves the ball between San Diego State’s Kayla Deitz, foreground, and Kristen Hickey, background, in women’s lacrosse Monday, April 3, 2017 in Fresno.

Giglio, who took over a fledgling program in 2012, declined comment through the athletics department.

The women’s lacrosse program since its inception in 2009 is just 27-103 and has never won more than two conference games in a season in going 8-63 in league play.

Giglio is 25-61 in seven seasons. The 2019 season begins in February.

The program has at least two secondary NCAA violations since 2016, one for having a recruit on campus for an unofficial visit during a dead period and one for using an ineligible player. Giglio was suspended for an exhibition match for the second of those violations, according to a report obtained from the athletics department through an earlier public records request.

The Bond, Schoeneck & King investigation only adds to the challenges for a program that also faces questions regarding a conference affiliation beyond the 2020 season.

When the sport was added at Fresno State the Bulldogs competed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation along with Pac-12 schools Cal, Stanford and Oregon plus UC Davis, Denver and Saint Mary’s. USC and Colorado later joined the conference, as did San Diego State after it added the sport.

But Denver bolted for the Big East Conference in 2017 and Cal, Stanford, Colorado, Oregon and USC with the addition of a program at Arizona State in 2018 played under the Pac-12 banner. Saint Mary’s last year reclassified its program to club status.

That left Fresno State, UC Davis and San Diego State in the MPSF and with only three teams in the league it had no automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Tournament.

It did crown a champion in a tournament that consisted of two games.

The Bulldogs were 0-2 and finished third in the three-team league and in the tournament lost to San Diego State, the eventual conference champion, 16-6.

The MPSF, according to a conference spokesman, is committed to holding a conference tournament in 2019 at UC Davis and in 2020 at Fresno State, but has made “no decisions” regarding women’s lacrosse beyond that.

Fresno State has explored options in other conferences, but it likely would require schools in the West adding the sport, those with club teams elevating to Division I status or some sort of merger with a conference in the Midwest or in the East.

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
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