Stanford, USC, Georgetown coaches among 50 indicted in college admissions cheating scandal
Three hundred FBI agents were involved in uncovering the $25M scheme, per reports
Division I coaches from Georgetown, Stanford, Texas, UCLA, USC, Wake Forest and Yale are among at least 50 people who have been federally indicted for their roles in a $25 million college admissions scandal.
First reported by NBC News and since confirmed by the FBI's Boston Division, the scheme was designed to help potential students "cheat on their college exams." Federal authorities said Tuesday that the coaches charged "accepted bribes in exchange for admitting students as athletes, regardless of their ability," according to the Associated Press. Parents of the students paid "an admissions consultant" $25 million over an eight-year span starting in 2011 in order to sell coaches and administrators on the scheme.
Some coaches indicted, according to charging documents from the U.S. Attorney's Office, include Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst, Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer, Texas men's tennis coach Michael Center, UCLA men's soccer coach Jorge Salcedo, USC senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and Yale women's soccer coach Rudy Meredith.
Vandemoer and Heinel have both been fired, according to the Los Angeles Times. The latter allegedly received bribes totaling more than $1.3 million.
Among the most notable names uncovered in the scandal are actresses Lori Loughlin, of "Full House" fame, and Felicity Huffman, formerly of ABC's "Desperate Housewives." Reports out of Boston indicate that Loughlin and her husband paid $500,000 to have their two daughters "designated as USC crew recruits, even though they didn't row."
Prosecutors revealed Tuesday that fake athletic profiles were created for the students benefiting from the bribery scheme to enhance their chances of college admission. Meanwhile, William Rick Singer, the alleged admissions consultant who NBC News said "masterminded" the operation through a for-profit college prep business out of California, allegedly received between $15,000 and $75,000 for having "someone else... take the SAT or ACT exams" in place of the "recruited-athlete" students.
Dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues," the FBI's investigation of the scheme used some 300 federal and IRS agents. Thirty-eight of the indicted racketeers have already been taken into custody, the FBI reported, with another seven set to turn themselves in.
In addition to the NCAA coaches implicated by the federal findings, it has been speculated that famed high school sports powerhouse IMG Academy, a private college sports preparatory, may be part of the scheme. Released court documents describe a "private college preparatory and sports academy in Bradenton, Florida" being connected to the scandal.
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