It’s time to Break It Down!
It’s NCAA Post-Season Tournament time. That means the ACC and a host of other tournaments have or are kicking off this week. In other words, it’s virtually a holiday, at least for college basketball fans. To that end, I’m going to treat this week’s post similar to the way I do most holiday posts. Similar, but not quite the same as I usually do during holidays. In those instances, I usually re-share a previous post. Today’s post is actually breaking news, but I won’t provide much additional commentary. The story stands on its own merit (or in this case, actually, demerit).
According to CNN reporting, yesterday, federal prosecutors announced that dozens of parents, including famous actresses, college coaches and a winemaker were charged in an alleged conspiracy to get students into top colleges. Fifty people were included in the federal criminal complaint.
William “Rick” Singer, based upon details released by the feds, is alleged to have conspired with a host of others to facilitate the fraudulent acceptance of students using bogus test scores, in some cases, purporting to be sports recruits. As I read about and listened to a variety of folks discussing this scheme yesterday, I saw it compared to affirmative action and legacy admissions, both of which are legal remedies to validly identified obstacles to college admission. This…is nothing like that. Full stop!
Mr. Singer, 58 years old, is from Newport Beach, California and is the owner/operator of Edge College & Career Network, LLC, a for-profit college counseling, and preparation business. Singer also served as CEO of Key Worldwide Foundation, a nonprofit, posing as a charity. He is the mastermind behind the scam to ensure that wealthy parents living a, by any means necessary, dream could grease the skids to ensure acceptance and admission of their kids to the best, most prestigious, hardest to gain entry to colleges and universities in America.
In Singer’s own words, “I created a side door that would guarantee families would get in. I was bribing coaches for a spot. And that occurred very frequently.” The overarching scheme was multi-varied, and often effective. At its core it was basic, but brazen. The three principal facets were:
Cheat on standardized tests
Pretend the money was for charity
Of the 50 people charged, many were not just wealthy, but individuals of fame, prominence, and notoriety.
- Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives) and her spouse made an alleged $15,000 charitable contribution to Key Worldwide Foundation to participate in the college entrance exam-cheating scheme on behalf of her oldest daughter. She later made arrangements to do so on behalf of her younger daughter, before changing her mind and deciding not to do so. She has been charged with felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. She was arrested at her home.
- Lori Loughlin (“Full House” and “Fuller House”) and her husband fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Giannulli allegedly “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 they did not participate in crew – thereby facilitating their admission to USC.
- Agustin Huneeus, Jr., who owns vineyards in Napa, California, and elsewhere, conspired to “bribe [senior athletic director Donna] Heinel and Jovan Vavic, the USC water polo coach, to facilitate his daughter’s admission to USC as a purported water polo recruit. He was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Heinel and Vavic are accused of conspiracy to commit racketeering.
CEO of a boutique-marketing firm
- Agreed to make a purported contribution of $50,000 to Key Worldwide in exchange for having a cooperating witness take the ACT on behalf of her son at a Houston test center.
New York International Law Firm Attorney
- This parent paid a purported $75,000 to Key Worldwide. A cooperating witness arranged for the director of college entrance exam preparation at a private school in Bradenton, Florida to pretend to proctor the attorney’s daughter’s ACT exam and “correct the answers after she completed it.”
College coaches and administrators (CNN has reached out to all four schools listed below)
- Yale University – Former Head Coach Women’s Soccer
- Stanford University
- University of Southern California – Senior Associate Athletic Director, former Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach
- Wake Forest University
This is truly only a CliffNotes kind of summary of this outrageous scandal. To find more details about this scam, check in with your favorite media outlet. It’s bound to be a part of the news cycle for at least the next few days. The involvement of Hollywood celebrities alone will ensure TV coverage, and print and electronic media are almost certain to go along for the ride. So, check it out. “The Price Is Right: Mother of All College Admissions Schemes!”
P.S. By all means, consider that while this repugnant and scandalous scheme was foiled, it is likely it represents just the tip of the iceberg, and many more scams of its ilk remain active, but unseen.
Now, that we got that out of the way, let’s get back to basketball. GO HEELS!
I’m done; holla back!
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