On Tuesday morning, a federal judge in Boston unsealed indictments against 47 individuals who are allegedly involved in a nationwide cheating and recruitment scheme to universities across the country. Yale, Georgetown, USC, UCLA, Wake Forest, and Texas are named in the case, all of which have current or former coaches who allegedly accepted money or benefits to allow students into the universities under the guise of being student-athletes, when in reality they were not.
William Rick Singer, owner of a for-profit college counseling and preparation business called “The Key”, is the epicenter of the investigation. Indictments allege that parents of prospective students paid Singer $25 million from 2011-2019 in exchange for bribing coaches and university officials to recruit their children as student athletes, even if they had no sporting background. Singer targeted lesser-publicized sports that don’t garner attention by the general public when a student-athlete is signed to them.
In addition to coaches, numerous parents are named in the indictment, the majority of whom have backgrounds in law, business, or the entertainment industry. Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman (of Desperate Housewives fame) and Lori Loughlin (Full House) are among the list, both were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
The scheme went so far as to create fake athletic profiles for the students, and designate them as high-level athletes in sports they had never played. After gaining entrance to the schools, the “athletes” either faked injuries or quit the sport, according to the FBI.
The case against Singer details how athlete profiles were set up:
“HEINEL” mentioned in the above is Donna Heinel, senior associate athletic director at USC. She was charged with “conspiracy to commit racketeering” as part of the indictment. Similar allegations are leveled at Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith, longstanding women’s soccer coach at Yale who left the school in 2018 after a 23-year career.
Coaches charged as part of the indictment include:
- Former Yale women’s soccer coach Rudy Meredith.
- Wake Forest volleyball coach Bill Ferguson.
- Texas men’s tennis coach Michael Center.
- USC women’s soccer coach Ali Khosroshahin.
- USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic
- Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst.
- Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer.
- UCLA men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo.
People are currently looking into those named in the indictments, and this will likely go further.
Worth noting that Gordie Ernst, the tennis coach accused of taking multiple six-figure cash bribes to admit fake recruits, resigned without explanation from Georgetown last summer. Now he's coaching at Rhode Island. https://t.co/KlcDHvrU4U— Jack Dickey (@jackdickey) March 12, 2019
Uhhhhhh I can't *prove* this is IMG Academy but ... pic.twitter.com/haYYcsuJrZ— marc tracy (@marcatracy) March 12, 2019
Documents say the Loughlin and her husband "agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team -- despite the fact that they did not participate in crew -- thereby facilitating their admission to USC."— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) March 12, 2019