College Soccer Coaches Indicted In Admissions Bribery Scheme Involving Wealthy, Famous Parents
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A number of college soccer coaches have been indicted in the massive college admissions bribery and cheating scandal that became public Tuesday.
Former Yale women’s soccer coach Rudy Meredith, current UCLA men’s coach Jorge Salcedo and former USC women’s coaches Ali Khosroshahin and Laure Janke were all among 50 people charged by the FBI and federal prosecutors, according to court documents first made available on Tuesday. Mark Riddell, the Director of College Entrance Exam Preparation at IMG Academy, which has a long history of producing soccer talent, was also charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, honest services mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The investigation, labeled internally as Operation Varsity Blues, included dozens of parents paying William Singer, of Edge College & Career Network (also known as The Key) five- to six-figure sums to help their kids get into top colleges around the country. The scandal has included well-known actresses Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”) and Lori Loughlin (“Full House”).
Thus far, the schools and students themselves have not been charged with wrongdoing, though the NCAA said it’s looking into the allegations for possible violations. It’s not clear if any of the students knew the cheating was being done for them.
NCAA statement on college admissions investigation:"The charges brought forth today are troubling and should be a concern for all of higher education. We are looking into these allegations to determine the extent to which NCAA rules may have been violated."
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) March 12, 2019
Andrew E. Lelling, the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said during a news conference on Tuesday that this was a case of parents using their wealth to create separate admissions processes for their kids. The victims, in this case, are the students who were not allowed in at the expense of those with parents with the means to cheat the system.
In all, 33 parents were indicted along with the college coaches from various sports. Some of the schools involved included Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of California.
The college admissions bribery scheme allowed wealthy parents a number of options to swindle their kids into college. Most often, this included cheating on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT for $15,000 to $75,000 per test. Parents would either hire someone to take a test for their child or Singer would have students take the test in facilities where bribed officials allowed the kids to cheat, often by feeding them answers.
College soccer coaches (and coaches in other sports) were also bribed to say they were recruiting these students. Most universities have different standards for accepting athletes, so The Key would create fake athletic profiles for students including teams the kids had not played for, fake awards and staged photos. The bribed coaches would then tell the admissions office they were recruiting the player.
Details came from emails and recorded phone calls from Singer.
“What we do is we help the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school,” Singer said in a recorded phone call. “They want guarantees, they want this thing done.
“There is a front door which means you get in on your own. The back door is through institutional advancement, which is 10 times as much money. And I’ve created this side door in.”
One email from Singer detailing instructions for this part of the scheme said: “This girl will be a midfielder and attending Yale so she has to be very good.” The email added they needed “a soccer pic probably Asian girl,” before sending the profile on to Meredith at Yale.
One player was presented as a lacrosse player applying for USC, which doesn’t even have a lacrosse team.
The news of the college admissions bribery scheme set the Twittersphere on fire on Tuesday morning as people challenged each other to be more indignant over rich people illegally doing things rich people do all the time (using their wealth to get ahead).
My personal favorite was this excellent thread with a surprise twist at the end.
A thread with one hell of a twist. https://t.co/1T9WHBpEPo— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) March 12, 2019
The scheme also drew ire from Donald Trump Jr., which drew ire from the hypocrisy police.
trump jr. trying to dunk on *checks notes* ... wealthy celebrities exploiting a corrupt system in order to help their kids sure is something!! pic.twitter.com/QacLmp6EtR— Robbie Couch (@robbie_couch) March 12, 2019
And one burn on Huffman for good measure.
you tell us https://t.co/e8A9MkDqjX— Lifehacker (@lifehacker) March 12, 2019