In Other Ivory Towers

Samuel Wolf

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) charged 50 parents, athletic coaches and college exam administrators yesterday in a nationwide fraud scheme that assisted students in gaining admission to elite universities. The College and its employees have not been publicly implicated in these criminal proceedings, which, according to The New York Times, constitute the DOJ’s largest-ever college admission prosecution. The case involved implicated 200 individuals nationwide who participated in or facilitated the misconduct.

Rick Singer, the CEO of Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF), pleaded guilty yesterday in a Boston federal court to charges including racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Investigators regard KWF as a shell organization to funnel bribes from parents to certain colleges and test administrators. The list of schools involved in the scam includes Georgetown, Yale, Stanford, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California, Los Angeles. 

The methods employed by parents varied from helping their children cheat on the SATs to falsely claiming that their children were athletic recruits, officials said. Other people implicated in the charges include college entrance exam administrators, who, in exchange for compensation, are alleged to have provided answers to students or corrected incorrect answers after the test. Parents were also charged with bribing sports coaches and administrators at colleges to claim that their children were athletic recruits, allowing them to gain easier admission. A former head coach of Yale women’s soccer has pleaded guilty to these charges and is now working with investigators. 

The implicated parents, who include actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, are charged with paying quantities beween $500,000 to $6.5 million in exchange for these services. Huffman allegedly paid $500,000 in bribes for her daughters to be labeled as USC crew team members, although they were not on the team. Another parent allegedly gave $50,000 to KWF to have someone else take her child’s entrance exam. 

Individual institutions of higher learning are not being viewed as perpetrators of fraud at this time, according to the DOJ.