Admissions canceled, a class action: the fallout from the university scandal spreads



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The University of Southern California has canceled the admissions of half a dozen students and several other colleges and universities are committed to taking a closer look at their admissions process while the fallout of an admissions scandal involving coaches, administrators of sports departments and 33-related parents who would have liked to have their children admitted to prestigious colleges.

A class action suit was filed Wednesday on behalf of candidates who were denied admission to several universities affected by the scandal. It alleged that these schools had not taken adequate measures to protect themselves against fraud, depriving the applicants of a fair shot. And it appeared that the FBI's investigation was causing an investor who had warned the admins of the admissions scheme after he found himself committing fraud on securities.

On Tuesday, 50 people were charged or charged, including actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and husband Loughlin, clothing designer Mossimo Giannulli. Other parents accused include the owner of a Napa Valley winery, the wife of an NFL legend, senior lawyers, private equity investors, estate tycoons Real estate and a media company owner. Some of the indicted have already suffered consequences: the Hallmark chain announced that she had abandoned Loughlin from all her future projects, and William McGlashan, who would have bought a USC official to have her son admitted as a recruited athlete, resigned from TPG Growth, a private agent. stock funds.

Questions remain about what will happen to students who have been admitted in circumstances examined by the FBI. According to the criminal complaint filed in this case, their parents have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to submit fraudulent test results and false sports references on their behalf. Prosecutors say that with the help of a corrupt university consultant, parents have paid coaches for their children to pose as sports recruits, allowing them to attend selective schools despite poor academic performance.

Prosecutors said some parents were trying to hide the scheme from their children, even letting them believe that they had high scores on tests that had been passed by the college's exam prep director. . A mother reportedly asked "it would be possible for her to obtain a copy of the exam that she could pass to her son at home – for that he could believe that he passed the test, "specified the file.

Court documents allege that the man at the epicenter of the scandal, William "Rick" Singer, helps parents to place their children in selective schools since at least 2011. Although the criminal complaint identifies a Thirty or so children who were allegedly fraudulently admitted, Singer reportedly told a parent that he had facilitated 761 admissions through "side doors" – his term for the ploy.

Georgetown University announced Thursday it plans to hire an independent analyst to audit its sporting recruitment and recommends actions to "strengthen the integrity of our process."

Prosecutors alleged that Singer had donated to former Georgetown tennis coach, Gordon Ernst, more than $ 2.7 million in bribes from 2012 to 2018. In exchange, prosecutors said that At least 12 candidates had been recruited, including some who did not play tennis competitively.

The university said it was reviewing court documents and its own records to confirm how many Singer-related candidates had been admitted to Georgetown and how many were still enrolled.

What the university will do about these students is unknown. Quoting federal privacy legislation, Georgetown said it would not comment on students.

At Wake Forest University, federal investigators have accused volleyball coach Bill Ferguson of being an accomplice to the scheme. Court documents indicate that Singer sent three checks totaling $ 100,000 to Ferguson in 2017. Half of this money went to a Ferguson-controlled private volleyball camp, according to the documents. The remainder was awarded to the Wake Forest Women's Volleyball Program and the Wake Forest Deacon Club.

In exchange, according to prosecutors, Ferguson designated one of Singer's clients as a recruit – a step that increased the applicant's chances of admission. School officials acknowledged that a candidate mentioned in the complaint had been placed on a waiting list before being offered admission.

"We have no reason to believe that the student was aware of the so-called financial transaction," said Wednesday university president Nathan O. Hatch.

Hatch stated that Ferguson had been put on administrative leave. "The review completed to date by outside legal counsel shows that Bill Ferguson acted independently and was the only person in Wake Forest who knew of and participated in the alleged misconduct," Hatch said.

Other schools refused to say what would happen to students who, according to the prosecutors, were admitted via fraudulent schemes. No student has been charged with a crime.

Experts said the scandal crystallized the long-held resentment of the disadvantages of middle-class and working class families over affluent families, providing more evidence that the system is rigged in favor of the poor. rich. Anger and indignation may force universities to unveil the process of admission, long held in secrecy.

The class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in Northern California, added an additional element to the consequences of the scandal. One of the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit, Kalea Woods, a Stanford student, also applied in 2017 at the University of Southern California. The complaint stated that Woods and others like her did not know when they requested that their admission be "an unfair and rigged process" whereby parents could "buy" slots for their children. children.

When asked about the lawsuit, the universities defended their admissions systems. "Like many students and families across the country, we are also outraged by the fact that parents, outside actors, and university staff may have committed fraud around university admissions," JB said. Bird, spokesperson for the University of Texas at Austin. "The University of Texas has a full and holistic admission process. Actions alleged by federal prosecutors against a UT employee were not consistent with this policy and could have been criminal. They do not reflect our admissions process. "

FBI agents were informed of the scheme by a man they were investigating for securities fraud. Once caught, the man offered his agents an undeniable advantage – Yale's female football coach, Rudolph Meredith, had suggested a bribe that could get his child into school, according to people aware.

With that, the FBI organized a clandestine meeting in a hotel room in Boston in which the two men discussed conditions, including a $ 450,000 bribe if the coach designated his girl as a rookie for the football team, which would greatly increase his chances of admission to Yale, according to court documents and people familiar with the subject. The identity of the tipster had already been revealed by the Boston Globe.

The infiltrated father allegedly paid the coach a deposit of $ 2,000, according to the charges.

After this meeting in April 2018, FBI agents made contact with Meredith, who agreed to cooperate to provide evidence against other people involved in the scheme. This led the agents to Singer.

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