Where is the money?


Fresno State Athletics File Photo
Former football player Alphonso Bigelow donated the largest pledge in Fresno State athletics, $10 million, almost a year ago

In June of 2009, former Fresno State linebacker and CEO of NykelBam International, LLC Alphonso Bigelow pledged to donate $10 million to the Fresno State athletic department.

Almost one year later, Fresno State has received just one percent of the promised amount, and Bigelow is nowhere to be found.

Bigelow is a Long Beach, Calif. native who played football at Fresno State under head coach Jim Sweeney for four years, and graduated from the Sid Craig School of Business. He credits his self-started company as the source of the donation.

The pledge was the largest philanthropic donation in Fresno State history.

There were plans to “transform athletic facilities, provide scholarships and enhance the experience for student-athletes.” The only thing the athletic department even broke ground on is a new aquatics center, which was in the making before Bigelow’s projected donation.

Deadlines for payment installments have since passed. Unfortunately for those who are curious about what comes next, the Bulldog Foundation has the right to refuse discussion about pledges or donations, and those curious fans have no choice but to wait and play the situation by ear.

The Universities [Fresno State Athletic Department] won’t announce whether or not they did a background check on Bigelow or his company, was performed.

When the announcement was made last June, questions about the corporation surfaced, Bigelow described NykelBam as “a company that facilitates mainly gold and diamond transactions between private parties.”

The business, however, did not have a website nor did it have an office to conduct business. But, after research was conducted the conclusion was that neither exists.

In addition to Bigelow not responding to several media outlets’ requests for comment, there’s also another ironic twist to the situation.

Former Fresno State Associate Athletics Directors for Development Danny White and Jay Vickers were in charge of fundraising for the athletic department. Just months after the donation was announced, the two left for larger schools.

If a director in charge of fundraising was able to raise $10 million for a program, schools would likely salivate over the opportunity to have them on their staff. However, in this case, the full amount of money was never received.

Vickers went on to serve the same position at the University of Arizona, and White took the same job at Ole Miss. White even listed the $10 million dollar donation as an accolade of his.


Corrections:
• A story titled “Where is the money?” that ran on May 7 did not attribute its information. Articles compiled from ABC channel 30 were used.

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