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Universities Named in the College Admissions Bribery Scandal Respond

The Justice Department announced on Tuesday dozens of charges related to a massive college admissions bribery scheme involving parents who reportedly paid bribes of up to $6.5 million to get their children into elite colleges.

Federal prosecutors revealed that the parents, which ranged from Hollywood actresses to Wall Street and Silicon Valley executives, spent an average of $250,000 and $400,000 per student, and some even worked to recruit their children as athletes regardless of their athletic abilities, Insider reports.

According to ABC News, Georgetown University, the University of Southern California, Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, Yale University, Wake Forest University and the University of California, Los Angeles were named in court documents.

School officials have reacted to the news and addressed the scandal.

Here are the universities’ statements on the investigation’s findings.

University of Southern California

USC was named in the court documents, which showed that actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, paid $500,000 to get their daughters into USC by having them “designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew.” A fake athlete profile was created for their younger daughter to falsely present her as a crew coxswain for the L.A. Marina Club team.

In a letter to the university community, USC President Wanda M. Austin address the scandal.

“The federal government has alleged that USC is a victim in a scheme perpetrated against the university by a long-time Athletics Department employee, one current coach and three former coaching staff, who were allegedly involved in a college admissions scheme and have been charged by the government on multiple charges,” Austin wrote.

“It is immensely disappointing that individuals would abuse their position at the university in this way,” Austin said in the letter, adding that the university would fully cooperate with federal prosecutors.

The university would also be conducting its own internal investigation.

Austin also pledged to take “appropriate employment action” against the employees involved in the scam, and would review admissions decisions, ABC News reports.

As of Tuesday afternoon, USC officials announced that Jovan Vanvic, the university’s water polo coach, and Donna Heinel, the university’s senior associate athletic director, were terminated from their positions.

Stanford University

Stanford said in a statement that head sailing coach John Vandemoer was terminated after he was named in the charges.

Vandemoer, who plead guilty to a charge of racketeering conspiracy, reportedly agreed to designate students in the college admissions scheme as sailing team recruits in exchange for payments made to the team. However, none of those students ended up going to Stanford.

In a statement, the university said, “The charges state that sailing head coach John Vandemoer accepted financial contributions to the sailing program from an intermediary in exchange for agreeing to recommend two prospective students for admission to Stanford. Neither student came to Stanford; one student was initially denied admission and intended to reapply but never did, and the second never completed an application. However, the behavior in the case runs completely counter to Stanford’s values.”

The university believed that was the extent of the payments, but vowed to investigate further.

University of California, Los Angeles

Federal prosecutors charged UCLA’s head men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcido with racketeering conspiracy, Insider reports.

UCLA, in a joint statement with UCLA Athletics, said Salcedo had been “placed on leave and will have no involvement with the soccer team while this matter is under review.”

“The conduct alleged in the filings revealed today is deeply disturbing and in contrast with the expectations we have of our coaches to lead their teams with honesty and integrity,” the statement continued. “If the facts alleged are true, they represent a grave departure from the ethical standards we set for ourselves and the people who work here.”

The university said it is “not aware of any current student-athletes who are under suspicion.” UCLA added that it would cooperate with federal authorities and conduct its own review to determine the proper steps to take to address the matter.

Wake Forest University

Wake Forest officials also released a statement saying the school’s head volleyball coach, William Ferguson, was charged with racketeering conspiracy, ABC News reports. Ferguson has been placed on administrative leave.

“The university has retained outside legal counsel to look into this matter,” school officials said, adding that they had “no further comment at this time.”

University of Texas at Austin

UT spokesman JB Bird said in a statement that tennis coach Michael Center would be placed on administrative leave until further notice. Center had been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, Insider reports.

“Integrity in admissions is vital to the academic and ethical standards of our university,” the statement read, adding that the university would be cooperating fully with authorities.

Yale University

In a case highlighted by federal prosecutors, former Yale University head women’s soccer coach, Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith, was paid $400,000 to accept a student despite the fact that the student did not play the sport.

“The Office of Undergraduate Admissions relies on varsity coaches to provide honest and expert evaluations of individual applicants’ athletic accomplishments and potential to contribute to a varsity team. The Admissions Committee considers these evaluations alongside the other components of an applicant’s file, but only students whose applications demonstrate their ability to succeed in the academic and residential components of the Yale experience are admitted,” the university said in a statement.

Yale said it has cooperated fully and will continue to cooperate in the investigation.

Georgetown University

“Georgetown University is deeply disappointed to learn that former Tennis Coach Gordon Ernst is alleged to have committed criminal acts against the University that constitute an unprecedented breach of trust,” Georgetown spokesperson Meghan Dubyak said in a statement.

The university said Ernst had not coached the tennis team since December 2017 after an internal review found that he had violated university rules regarding admissions. Ernst was charged with racketeering conspiracy by federal prosecutors.

“Georgetown cooperated fully with the government’s investigation. We are reviewing the details of the indictment and will take appropriate action,” the statement concluded.

Emily has also authored political articles for Restless Magazine and numerous inspirational and empowering pieces for Project Wednesday. When she isn't writing, she can be found flying off to her next adventure, attempting new recipes, listening to one of her infinite playlists on Spotify, or cuddling with her dogs. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @emilycveith.