- Dozens of people, including several successful actors and prominent businesspeople, have been indicted in a college-admissions scheme, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.
- Authorities said parents spent an average of between $US250,000 and $US400,000 per student and some facilitated their children being recruited as Division 1 athletes regardless of their athletic abilities.
- Universities named in court documents include Georgetown University, the University of Southern California, Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, Yale University, Wake Forest University, and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Dozens of people were indicted on charges related to paying bribes of up to $US6.5 million to get their children into elite universities, federal prosecutors revealed Tuesday.
Authorities said parents spent an average of between $US250,000 and $US400,000 per student and some facilitated their children being recruited as Division 1 athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities.
Many of the students involved in the bribes didn’t know about the deals, according to investigators. The schools have so far denied any knowledge of the schemes.
The universities named in unsealed court documents include Georgetown University, the University of Southern California, Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, Yale University, Wake Forest University, and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Here’s how each school is responding to the investigation’s findings:
University of Southern California
USC was named in court documents that showed actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were charged with paying $US500,000 in bribes to get their two daughters into USC as recruits for the crew team, despite the fact that they don’t row crew.
In a statement to INSIDER, USC said it had “not been accused of any wrongdoing” and, in addition to cooperating with federal prosecutors, was conducting an internal investigation into the matter.
A statement sent to students Tuesday reiterated that the school was a “victim” and admissions staff were unaware of such schemes. The university also wrote that it had planned “significant remedial efforts,” including reviewing admissions decisions.
No further information was immediately available on the enrollment status of students who were caught up in the scandal.
Read USC’s full statement:
We are aware of the ongoing wide-ranging criminal investigation involving universities nationwide, including USC. USC has not been accused of any wrongdoing and will continue to cooperate fully with the government’s investigation.
We understand that the government believes that illegal activity was carried out by individuals who went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university. USC is conducting an internal investigation and will take employment actions as appropriate.
USC is in the process of identifying any funds received by the university in connection with this alleged scheme. Additionally, the university is reviewing its admissions processes broadly to ensure that such actions do not occur going forward.
Stanford said in a statement that head sailing coach John Vandemoer was fired after he was named in the charges.
Authorities accused him of accepting payments to the sailing program, but investigators said neither of the two students those payments were intended for ended up going to Stanford.
The school added it believed that was the extent of such payments but would investigate further.
Read Stanford’s full statement:
The U.S. Department of Justice today charged a number of people around the country in an alleged scheme in which payments were made to try to win the admission of prospective students to a number of U.S. colleges and universities. Stanford’s head sailing coach was among those charged in the case.
Stanford has been cooperating with the Department of Justice in its investigation and is deeply concerned by the allegations in this case. The university and its athletics programs have the highest expectations of integrity and ethical conduct. The head coach of the Stanford sailing team has been terminated.
The charges state that sailing head coach John Vandemoer accepted financial contributions to the sailing program from an intermediary in exchange for agreeing to recommend two prospective students for admission to Stanford. Neither student came to Stanford. However, the alleged behaviour runs completely counter to Stanford’s values.
Based on the Department of Justice investigation to date, we have no evidence that the alleged conduct involves anyone else at Stanford or is associated with any other team. However, we will be undertaking an internal review to confirm that.
University of California, Los Angeles
Federal prosecutors charged UCLA men’s soccer head coach Jorge Salcedo with racketeering conspiracy.
In a joint statement with UCLA Athletics, the university said Salcedo had been “placed on leave and will have no involvement with the soccer team while this matter is under review. “
“The conduct alleged in the filings revealed today is deeply disturbing and in contrast with the expectations we have of our coaches to lead their teams with honesty and integrity,” the statement read. “If the facts alleged are true, they represent a grave departure from the ethical standards we set for ourselves and the people who work here.”
The statement added that the school is “not aware of any current student-athletes who are under suspicion” and that it would cooperate with the Department of Justice in addition to its own review to inform next steps.
Read UCLA’s full statement:
The US Department of Justice announced this morning a criminal case naming UCLA Men’s Soccer head coach Jorge Salcedo as a defendant, and notified UCLA that it is a potential victim of a fraudulent scheme. Coach Salcedo has been placed on leave and will have no involvement with the soccer team while this matter is under review. Assistant coaches Matt Taylor and Phil Marfuggi will lead the team in his absence.
The conduct alleged in the filings revealed today is deeply disturbing and in contrast with the expectations we have of our coaches to lead their teams with honesty and integrity. If the facts alleged are true, they represent a grave departure from the ethical standards we set for ourselves and the people who work here.
UCLA is not aware of any current student-athletes who are under suspicion. The University is cooperating with the Department of Justice and will conduct its own review to determine the proper steps to take to address this matter.
University of Texas at Austin
UT spokesman JB Bird said in a statement that tennis coach Michael Center would be placed on administrative leave until further notice while the school fully cooperates with the investigation.
“Integrity in admissions is vital to the academic and ethical standards of our university,” the statement read.
Center was charged in the probe with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Read UT’s full statement:
Federal authorities notified us this morning that we were victims of an organised criminal effort involving admissions. We have just become aware of charges against our Men’s Tennis Coach Michael Center and he will be placed on administrative leave until further notice while we gather information. We are cooperating fully with the investigation. Integrity in admissions is vital to the academic and ethical standards of our university.
Wake Forest University
Wake Forest said in a statement that it had retained outside legal counsel to further investigate the charges against head volleyball coach Bill Ferguson while he is placed on administrative leave.
Read Wake Forest’s full statement:
Wake Forest is aware of the allegations regarding head volleyball coach Bill Ferguson. The University has retained outside legal counsel to look into this matter. Wake Forest has placed Ferguson on administrative leave and named Randi Smart interim coach, effective immediately. We will have no further comment at this time.
Georgetown spokesperson Meghan Dubyak said in a statement that the school is “deeply disappointed” in the “unprecedented breach of trust” by former tennis coach Gordon Ernst, who prosecutors also charged with racketeering conspiracy.
The statement also specified that Ernst had not coached at Georgetown since 2017, when an internal investigation found that he had violated university admissions rules.
Read Georgetown’s full statement:
Georgetown University is deeply disappointed to learn that former Tennis Coach Gordon Ernst is alleged to have committed criminal acts against the University that constitute an unprecedented breach of trust. Ernst has not coached our tennis team since December 2017, following an internal investigation that found he had violated University rules concerning admissions. Georgetown cooperated fully with the government’s investigation. We are reviewing the details of the indictment and will take appropriate action.
Yale said in a statement that the women’s soccer coach named by prosecutors is no longer coaching at the school.
Seeming to address the accusations that parents had paid coaches to make it appear as though their children had been recruited to varsity teams, the statement also said that Yale depends on coaches to provide “honest and expert evaluations” of applicants during the admission process but that admissions officers weigh individual abilities as a whole and consider sports only a partial factor.
Read Yale’s full statement:
As the federal charging document makes clear, the Department of Justice believes that Yale’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions has been the victim of a crime perpetrated by its women’s soccer coach, who is no longer at the university. The university has cooperated fully in the investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case moves forward.
The Office of Undergraduate Admissions relies on varsity coaches to provide honest and expert evaluations of individual applicants’ athletic accomplishments and potential to contribute to a varsity team. The Admissions Committee considers these evaluations alongside the other components of an applicant’s file, but only students whose applications demonstrate their ability to succeed in the academic and residential components of the Yale experience are admitted.
University of San Diego
USD has not yet released a statement.
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