Dr. Phil apologised for insulting a college he thought was 'fictitious' — but is very real

NBC/Nathan Congleton via Getty ImagesDr. Phil on TODAY, Thursday, April 26, 2018.
  • The daytime television host Phil McGraw, known as Dr. Phil, apologised on Sunday for insulting a small Pennsylvania university he said he thought was “fictitious.”
  • McGraw told People magazine in an interview that wealthy parents viewed Ivy League schools as “jewellery” rather than as education, and that they don’t want their children to attend schools like “Slippery Rock.”
  • Slippery Rock University’s president responded in a stinging letter, telling McGraw his students can receive life-changing educations “for less than the price tag of your lovely ’57 Chevy Bel Air Convertible.”
  • McGraw apologised, saying his remarks were “from ignorance, not intention,” and that he had since learned about Slippery Rock University and was impressed.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

The daytime television host Phil McGraw, also known as Dr. Phil, apologised on Sunday for insulting a small Pennsylvania university, explaining that he had mentioned it only because he believed it was fictitious.

In an interview with People magazine about the college admissions scandal, McGraw mentioned Slippery Rock University as an example of what many parents deemed an undesirable school for their children – as opposed to Ivy League institutions like Harvard or Yale.

Dozens of parents have gotten caught up in the scandal, and some have already pleaded guilty to paying bribes to get their children into top schools.

“They’re not buying their kids an education. That’s not what it’s about. I don’t think it has anything to do with the education. I think this is jewellery for a lot of these people.” McGraw told People. “The kids are leaving high school, they don’t want to say, ‘My kid’s going to the junior college.’ They want to say, ‘My kid’s going to Harvard, my kid’s going to USC or Yale.’ I think it’s bragging rights for them. And they don’t want to be the one parent that says, ‘Well, yeah, my kid’s going to, you know, Slippery Rock.'”

Read more: The college admissions scandal highlights just how much successful people believe an elite education matters

To McGraw’s surprise, the president of Slippery Rock University issued a sharp retort on the school’s Facebook page, arguing that students can secure life-changing educations on their campus “for less than the price tag of your lovely ’57 Chevy Bel Air Convertible.”

Slippery Rock University’s president, William Behre, wrote that graduates of the school have gone on to become CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, top surgeons, and four-star generals.

“Our alumni run the full spectrum of occupations from accountants to zoologists,” Behre said. “There’s no need to bribe your way into Slippery Rock University. Our doors are open to anyone who is qualified.”

The school even tweeted a GIF of McGraw, urging students to retweet it if their parents were proud of their SRU degree.

McGraw wrote an apology letter to the school, explaining that he hadn’t known Slippery Rock University was a real school, and that he had since learned about the institution and was impressed.

“It was definitely not aimed at the real Slippery Rock University (SRU). It was from ignorance, not intention, that I made the comment, as I was unaware of your school and intended to use a fictitious example,” he said. “One hundred per cent my mistake. I have since educated myself about SRU and could not be more impressed with your fine institution.”

McGraw went on to explain that the school is “the real deal” and ranks highly among the country’s thousands of colleges and universities.

“Slippery Rock University certainly deserves no slight from me or anyone else, intended or otherwise. I wish SRU nothing but the best,” he said.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.