Harvard is investigating its head fencing coach over claims that he sold his home to the family of student athletes at an over-inflated price

Photo by Jason Miller/NCAA Photos via Getty ImagesHead coach Peter Brand talks to Veronica Czyzewski of Harvard as she competes against Karolina Cieslar of St. John’s in the Saber semi finals during the Division I Women’s Fencing Championship in March 2019.

Harvard University is investigating its head fencing coach over allegations that he sold his home in Needham, Massachusetts, to the family of students athletes for approximately twice what it was worth, school officials announced on Thursday.

The Boston Globe reported on Thursday that in 2016, fencing coach Peter Brand sold his home to Jie Zhao for $US989,500. Tax documents seen by The Globe indicated that the home was worth just under $US550,000.

At the time of the sale, Zhao had a son on the Harvard fencing team and another son in high school, who later was accepted in to Harvard and joined the fencing team.

Seventeen months later, Zhao sold the property at a loss of $US300,000 having never lived there.

Harvard is now investigating whether the sale of the home was connected in anyway to Zhao’s younger son’s recruitment for the school’s fencing team.

Zhao denied any wrongdoing to The Globe, adding that that his younger son’s admission to Harvard was a “no-brainer” and that he was a successful fencer.

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Harvard Dean Claudine Gay said in a statement on Thursday that admissions practices are strenuous and all recruited student-athletes are interviewed by an admissions officer or an alumni interviewer.

“We are now moving quickly to learn more about these claims through an independent review,” Gay said in her statement.

School officials told CNN that they were made aware of the real estate transactions through The Boston Globe’s reporting.

Gay said in her statement that the investigation is not connected to the nationwide college admissions scandal being probed by federal prosecutors in Massachusetts.

“Regardless of what we eventually learn about these allegations, this is not a time for complacency,” Gay said in her statement, “Where there are opportunities to clarify practices and strengthen procedures, we must act on them, and do so with a sense of urgency.”

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