The college admissions scam involving Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman shows how some rich families use a “side door” to game an already unfair education system.
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Yale University has rescinded the admission of a student whose family allegedly paid $1.2 million in bribes get her into the Ivy league school.
It marks the first time a school implicated in the nationwide college admissions bribery scandal has said publicly it has taken action to boot a student as a result of the allegations.
Tom Conroy, a spokesman for Yale, confirmed in a statement to USA TODAY that “Yale has rescinded the admission of one student as a result of this matter.”
The student, whose name was not disclosed by Yale, is identified as “Applicant 1” in the Justice Department’s indictment of former Yale women’s head soccer coach Rudy Meredith, who is among the 50 defendants in the sweeping case. Meredith resigned from the position in November.
Two students received bogus athletic endorsements from the Yale coach, but only one was admitted by the school, university officials have said.
Yale President Peter Salovey, in a letter Tuesday to Yale supporters, provided an update of the school’s internal reviews, prompted by allegations against Meredith, over the application process for athletes. He said Yale has confirmed the pre-admission athletic credentials dating to 2015 of all members of the school’s athletic teams who received an athletic endorsement during the admission process.
“Furthermore, with the exception of the single student who was fraudulently admitted, we have determined that all enrolled Yale students who were admitted with an athletic endorsement played at least one season on their varsity sports team,” he said. “The admission of the student who received a fraudulent endorsement has been rescinded.”
Universities have varied in their handling of currently enrolled students whose parents allegedly paid bribes in the cheating scandal. The University of Southern California, for example, placed holds last week on the accounts of six current students associated with the scheme amid a case-by-case review, preventing them from enrolling in classes and acquiring academic transcripts.
Federal prosecutors say that Meredith in November 2017 accepted a fabricated “athletic profile” from Rick Singer, the alleged ringleader of the scheme, that lied about the applicant’s soccer credentials. It included falsely describing her as a co-captain of a prominent soccer club in Southern California. Meredith allegedly used that profile to classify her as a women’s soccer player.
Singer sent Meredith a check of $400,000 around Jan. 1, 2018, according to indictment.
In all, prosecutors say, the father and other relatives of the student paid Singer $1.2 million, including $900,000 into a charitable account Singer set up through his college counseling organization called The Key.
The FBI later secretly recorded Meredith in a Boston hotel room where he allegedly agreed to designate a different young woman, identified in court documents as “Applicant 2,” as a Yale soccer player in exchange for $450,000. Prosecutors say he accepted an initial payment of $2,000 in cash at the hotel and later received $4,000 through a wire transfer into a Connecticut bank account.
The financial arrangement was part of an FBI sting operation after a financial executive wanting leniency in a securities case tipped federal authorities that Meredith sought a bribe to get his daughter into Yale. Meredith later cooperated with the FBI, making him the key domino in the case.
Federal prosecutors say that rich and powerful parents of underqualified students paid $25 million collectively since 2011 to Singer, who led a sham nonprofit, to either have someone cheat on their ACT or SAT exams or to pay off athletic coaches who accepted their children on their teams even if they didn’t play the sport.
Salovey, Yale’s president, said going forward the athletics department will review the athletic credentials of all students who receive an athletic endorsement from a coach. He said the school has also launched a “comprehensive review” of the school’s procedures for providing an athletic department recommendation for a student.
“Should we become aware of any further improprieties in the process, we will take appropriate action,” he said.
Twelve defendants, including six coaches, pleaded not guilty on Monday in federal court in Boston to racketeering conspiracy charges.
Meredith, who was not among them, has a plea to information hearing Thursday before Federal Judge Mark L. Wolf. A defendant pleads to information when the individual agrees to plead guilty as part of a plea bargain.
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