50 Charged in College Bribery Scandal

Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are the most famous of dozens of rich folks trying to get their kids into elite schools.


WaPo (“FBI accuses wealthy parents, including celebrities, in college-entrance bribery scheme“):

The Justice Department on Tuesday charged 50 people — including two television stars — with being part of a long-running bribery scheme to get privileged children with lackluster grades into big-name colleges and universities.

The alleged crimes included cheating on entrance exams, as well as bribing college officials to say certain students were coming to compete on athletic teams when those students were not in fact athletes, officials said. Numerous schools were targeted, including Georgetown University, Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and UCLA, among others.

Boston’s U.S. attorney, Andrew Lelling, called it the largest-ever college admissions scam prosecuted by the Justice Department. Of the 50 people charged as part of the FBI’s Operation Varsity Blues, 33 were parents, officials said, warning that the investigation is ongoing and that others could be charged.

The massive scheme was discovered accidentally by the FBI — while working an unrelated undercover operation, officials said. That tip led to a sprawling, nationwide corruption probe.

“These parents are a catalogue of wealth and privilege,” said Lelling. “This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud. There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy, and I’ll add there will not be a separate criminal justice system, either.”

None of the students were charged because prosecutors said their parents were the scheme’s principal actors.

Court filings released Tuesday paint an ugly picture of privileged parents committing crimes to get their children into selective schools. Among those charged are actresses Felicity Huffman, best known for her role on the television show “Desperate Housewives,” and Lori Loughlin, who appeared on “Full House,” according to court documents. A representative for Loughlin declined to comment. A representative for Huffman did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Two participants in the scheme are scheduled to enter guilty pleas Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors said. One is William Singer, a well-connected college admissions adviser and the central figure in the scheme, officials said. He is accused of disguising the bribery scheme as a charity, enabling parents to deduct the bribes from their taxes.

Singer is charged with taking about $25 million from 2011 to 2018 — paying some of it to college coaches or standardized-testing officials for their help rigging the admissions process and pocketing the rest, according to the criminal complaint. He allegedly disguised the money using a nonprofit, the Key Worldwide Foundation, prosecutors said, characterizing it as a slush fund for bribes.

One of the cooperating witnesses, according to court documents, is a former head coach of Yale’s women’s soccer team, who pleaded guilty in the case nearly a year ago and has since been helping FBI agents gather evidence. That coach, Rudolph Meredith, allegedly took a $400,000 bribe to pretend to place a student on the team and help get her into the school, even though the student did not play competitive soccer, officials said. The student’s parents paid $1.2 million in bribes, officials said.

POLITICO (“Celebrities, wealthy parents charged by FBI in college admissions scheme“) adds:

Coaches at Georgetown, USC, UCLA and other schools face racketeering charges.

The FBI says the parents paid a college counseling and test prep business in Newport Beach, Calif., called “The Key,” which bribed college coaches and administrators and organized a scheme to help students cheat on college entrance exams, including the ACT and SAT.

The founder of The Key, William Rick Singer, who later cooperated with the FBI in the investigation, sold his clients on a “side door” to college admissions, which involved paying off coaches and administrators, according to charging documents. Between 2011 and 2018, they paid college officials about $25 million in all to designate their children as recruited athletes — regardless of their athletic abilities — or put them on other favored admissions lists.

Singer pleaded guilty to racketeering, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the government and obstruction of justice.

Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, called the parents charged “a catalog of wealth and of privilege.”

They include CEOs of public and private companies, successful investors, two actresses, a famous fashion designer and the co-chairman of a global law firm, he said.

“Based on the charges unsealed today, all of them knowingly conspired with Singer and others to help their children either cheat on the SAT or ACT and/or buy their children’s admissions to elite schools through fraud,” he said.

He said Singer’s clients paid between $100,000 and $6.5 million for his services, although the majority paid between $250,000 and $400,000 per student.

Loughlin and her husband bribed USC with $500,000 to have their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team, even though they did not participate in crew, officials allege. Huffman and her husband paid The Key $15,000 to get in on the cheating scheme, the FBI says.

Singer told parents it was a “tried and true” method developed at multiple universities over years of work helping past parents get their kids admitted.

He bragged to coaches about how many others were already on board. In one conversation with the head coach of women’s soccer at Yale, he said, “For this year I did [seven elite schools], we’ve done it everywhere,” the FBI alleged.

That coach later took a bribe to designate an applicant as a recruit for the Yale women’s soccer team, though she did not play competitive soccer. The applicant was admitted to Yale and The Key mailed the coach a $400,000 check, the FBI says. Relatives of the applicant paid The Key about $1.2 million in multiple installments.

NBC News (“Actresses Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman among 50 charged in college exam cheating plot“) adds:

The alleged scam focused on getting students admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities, and helping potential students cheat on their college exams, according to the indictment unsealed in Boston.

Authorities said the FBI investigation, code-named Operation Varsity Blues, uncovered a network of wealthy parents who paid thousands of dollars to a California man who boosted their childrens’ chances of gaining entrance into elite colleges, such as Yale and Stanford, by paying people to take tests for their children, bribing test administrators to allow it to happen, and bribing college coaches and administrators to identify the applicants as athletes.

“This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth, combined with fraud,” said U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling.

“There can be no separate college admission for wealthy, and I will add there will not be a separate criminal justice system either.”

While prosecutors are well-known for making over-the-top proclamations in their public announcements, this one is especially rich. One has to be living under a rock to think that we don’t already have separate college admission for the wealthy—much less a separate criminal justice system. Of course we do.

Now, obviously, direct bribery facilitate outright fraud, as is alleged here, is unusual. It’s surely illegal to bribe school officials under the table and for them to pocket said bribes. One presumes paying coaches to trump up fake athletic achievements and the like is similarly problematic.

But those with money and connections have a huge advantage in getting their kids into prestigious schools. Those with a whole lot of money can make massive donations, including endowing building funds or scholarships. Their kids are almost certainly going to be admitted to the schools that received said donations. And, of course, better-off parents have the money to pay for SAT coaching, resume-inflating extracurricular activities and travel, and such. Even people at my level of income have the ability to pay for their kids to participate in traveling athletics teams that are simply unaffordable for poorer parents outside perhaps those sports where pro opportunities attract corporate sponsors.

Many on my Twitter feed are having similar reactions:

Beyond all that, it’s worth reflecting on why it is that rich and famous people, who have already been able to give their kids enormous advantages in life, feel the need to get their kids into prestige schools they couldn’t qualify for on their own. Clearly, it’s not for the love of learning.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Education, Entertainment, Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. grumpy realist says:

    I’d say crank up the intensity of the classes, so those little spoiled darlings flunk out with Fs all over their records, but the parents would probably just start trying to bribe the teachers….

  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    OT…but kind of related to education…
    Dennison today, responding to the Ethiopian plane crash:

    Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better.

    What a fuqing numbskull…I don’t even understand how his little tiny brain manages to keep his heart beating.

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  3. EddieInCA says:

    Can someone help me out with the “conspiracy” part of the charges? If I’m a parent trying to bribe/cheat my child into a fancy school, how am I part of a conspiracy?

    Full disclosure: I have worked with both Ms. Loughlin and Ms. Huffman, but have no personal relationship with either.

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  4. Scott F. says:

    I have no sympathy for any of these rich folks gaming a system in which they already have great advantages. But, I find it interesting that every article I’ve seen on this story makes a point of calling out Huffman and Loughlin from the 50 people arrested. Yes, I get that they are the most famous names on the roster of the accused, but being rich and unknown shouldn’t give the benefit of escaping such scandal unnoticed. The two actresses will draw fire from a lot of frauds deserving equal measure of destroyed reputation.

  5. Guarneri says:

    “Beyond all that, it’s worth reflecting on why it is that rich and famous people, who have already been able to give their kids enormous advantages in life, feel the need to get their kids into prestige schools they couldn’t qualify for on their own.”

    Don’t overplay it. I’m sure all those football players at your school qualify on their academic merits…like the ability to run a real quick 40 yard dash…….snicker. I didn’t have a pot to pee in, but I got into The University of Chicago.

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  6. James Joyner says:

    @Scott F.:

    I find it interesting that every article I’ve seen on this story makes a point of calling out Huffman and Loughlin from the 50 people arrested. Yes, I get that they are the most famous names on the roster of the accused, but being rich and unknown shouldn’t give the benefit of escaping such scandal unnoticed. The two actresses will draw fire from a lot of frauds deserving equal measure of destroyed reputation.

    Presumably, their reputations will be damaged locally. Huffman and Louglin make national news because they’re known nationally.

    This happens all the time, no? Athletes and other celebrities accused of relatively minor crimes—DUIs, drug possession, simple battery—make the national news wheres ordinary people only make the local crime blotter. Even at the local level, a bank president or surgeon are going to get more attention for those crimes than a blue-collar worker or a homeless man.

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  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Can someone help me out with the “conspiracy” part of the charges? If I’m a parent trying to bribe/cheat my child into a fancy school, how am I part of a conspiracy?

    They conspired with this guy, Singer, to defraud the Universities…cheating on tests, falsifying documents, bribing people.

  8. James Joyner says:

    @Guarneri:

    “Beyond all that, it’s worth reflecting on why it is that rich and famous people, who have already been able to give their kids enormous advantages in life, feel the need to get their kids into prestige schools they couldn’t qualify for on their own.”

    Don’t overplay it. I’m sure all those football players at your school qualify on their academic merits…like the ability to run a real quick 40 yard dash…….snicker.

    It’s not obvious how the two are related? Personally, I’d prefer it if colleges admitted students solely on the basis of academic merit, perhaps with some sort of consideration for an underprivileged background. So long as this were done across the board, the competition would be just as compelling. Alas, schools started using ringers almost from the get-go (the origin of both the NCAA and the Ivy League) and attempts to rein it in have been only modestly successful.

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  9. EddieInCA says:

    A few decades ago, I worked for a billionaire. His flaky daughter decided she wanted to go to a specific University which only accepts the brightest of the bright. Unfortunately, said daughter was a “B” student at best at the prestigious all-girls, VERY EXPENSIVE, private school she attended.

    But her heart was set on this university. Well, Daddy (worth 2.8B) and Granddaddy (worth 2.7B) donated a $100Million Medical building to the university. Voila!!!! Daughter was accepted to the school! A miracle!!!!

    Here’s the kicker…. Middle of 2nd semester, she left school because it was too hard. She literally flunked out.

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  10. Blue Galangal says:

    I haven’t seen anything about this in the news reports, but are the testing companies included? I don’t know how you change answers on an already-taken test.

    @James – “Personally, I’d prefer it if colleges admitted students solely on the basis of academic merit, perhaps with some sort of consideration for an underprivileged background.”

    You would absolutely have to have some consideration for an underprivileged background, considering that the bulk of students in 6 high schools in my local district have the option of about 6 AP classes between them (yes, 1 per school) while the college-prep high school offers 18-24 AP classes and its graduates routinely graduate with 18+ advanced placement credits. Students from the other schools are already behind because the curriculum is less rigorous; now they have to pay for an extra year or two of courses or remedial courses. But when these students receive practical support, such as a housing stipend and an on-site advisor to go along with the tuition scholarship they qualified for, their retention and their academic performance are not significantly different from the students from the college-prep high school.

    The university where I work considers test scores but does not use them as the sole basis for admission in part because of such research.

    tl;dr: Don’t underestimate the sad and lasting effects of systemic racism and poverty on the “one size fits all, anyone can achieve academically if they’re just willing to work hard enough” mantra.

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  11. Kit says:

    I think what people miss is that a large part of the attraction with schools like Harvard is the cachet attached to them by the old-money elite. Mix in the big brains that scrape by on mere merit, and everyone gets the chance to make potentially life-changing connections.

    Harvard and Yale would both be diminished by only taking the smart kids. And the rich would simply pack up their privilege and go elsewhere.

    However, taking bribes to admit the vulgar progeny of the more vulgar nouveau riche simply dilutes the brand. And no one (apart from said rich) wants that. Heads will roll. And this time change will happen.

  12. Franklin says:

    @EddieInCA: I wouldn’t be too surprised to find out some of these cases ended up that way (or would have if they had been allowed to run their course). The NYT article noted that at least some of these kids didn’t even know their parents were pulling strings. Imagine showing up for class at Yale not realizing that you are nowhere near qualified to be there.

    It’d be something like this.

  13. Teve says:

    Matt Oswalt
    @MattOswaltVA
    ·
    47m
    when are all these rich privileged people whose wealth buys them unfair advantages and who live in a system specifically designed for rich privileged people whose wealth buys them unfair advantages gonna learn to play by the rules?

  14. Teve says:

    if the elite universities only made decisions based on academic merit, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, and MIT would be 93% Asian American, and white people would be demanding affirmative action.

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  15. Kit says:

    @Franklin:

    Imagine showing up for class at Yale not realizing that you are nowhere near qualified to be there.

    I don’t recall any stories about Bush having had any panic attacks during his time there.

  16. Dave Schuler says:

    I’ve been pretty open about my view that higher education is a lousy economic policy for 75% of American young people. Nonetheless that’s been embraced by the last four presidential administrations. Emphasis on getting into a “good school” is at the root of this problem.

    I agree that the cheating is an outrage but I don’t know how much of a problem it really is. I guess it depends on the scale. This is just one “educational consultant”. How many of them are there and how many of the others are elaborate cheating conspiracies?

    Perhaps the worst problem revealed is tax fraud. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what lands people in the clink.

    Let’s assume that it is, indeed, a major problem. What’s the solution?

    Update

    I have now read the affidavit (linked by the WaPo). It’s extremely vague about what actual statutes were violated. This conspiracy was wrong, it exposes the fraud of our present meritocracy, but other than tax fraud and associated wire fraud, what laws were broken? Not everything that’s wrong is illegal.

  17. just nutha says:

    @Teve: They ARE playing by the rules. Just as in English, each word has its own spelling rule, in college admissions, each rich kid has his or her own admission rule.

  18. Teve says:

    A good day to remember that Jared Kushner didn’t get into Harvard, then his dad made a $2.5 mil donation to Harvard (a school he never attended) and then Jared Kushner got into Harvard.

    Bonus fun fact: six years later his dad went to Federal prison. Good people. The best families.

    -ed burmilla

    @just nutha: yeah I know. The pretense that America is a meritocracy is just an excuse rich people make to justify benefiting from inequality.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @EddieInCA: The crime of conspiracy is one of the inchoate crimes. It is completed when you agree with another individual to carry out a criminal act (and depending on the state and how much it follows traditional common law, take a step towards the completion of the crime.) You DO have to have the intent, since this is one of the intent crimes.

  20. Monala says:

    Some years ago, Washington Monthly magazine started an alternative college ranking system to counter the damage done by US News & World Report‘s “prestige” based college ranking system. WM’s system focuses on:

    high marks to institutions that enroll low-income students, help them graduate, and don’t charge them an arm and a leg to attend. Universities that bring in research dollars are rewarded by our standards, as are those whose undergraduates go on to earn PhDs. And we recognize institutions that are committed to public service, both in the way they teach and in encouraging students to enter service-focused careers.

    As a result, USN&WR has modified their ranking system somewhat to include some of those criteria, but not enough, according to several critics.

    https://www.insidehighered.com/admissions/article/2018/09/10/us-news-says-it-has-shifted-rankings-focus-social-mobility-has-it

  21. Monala says:

    Here’s the Washington Monthly article about their ranking system: https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/septoct-2013/introduction-a-different-kind-of-college-ranking-3/

    and here’s their 2018 list of colleges ranked by that system:
    http://wmf.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/2018/WM_2018_Embargoed_Rankings.pdf

  22. DrDaveT says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Nonetheless that’s been embraced by the last four presidential administrations.

    I still gnash my teeth over the bait and switch that Obama did. During his campaign, he said sensible things about how not everyone needs to go to college, and vocational training is an essential piece of the out-of-poverty pathway for poor families, and we need more apprenticeships, etc. Once elected, it was all “everyone needs a college education”. Blreah. Very disappointing.

    (Yes, I recognize that he was unexpectedly busy dealing with a crashed economy, but it would have been better if he’d done nothing and let his campaign statements stand…)

  23. steve says:

    Ahhh, this is capitalism at its best. There was a market for people who wanted to cheat and get their kids into the good schools, thereby guaranteeing them success for the rest of their lives (so they think) but not wealthy enough to donate a whole wing or building. As they said in the movie, nature finds a way. Wonder how many other scams are running?

    Steve

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  24. Franklin says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    what laws were broken?

    I don’t know. But on what legal grounds did public universities get sued for using affirmative action in their admissions process?

  25. Kathy says:

    I bribed a teacher once, for the final exam in biology in high school.

    Long story short, he told me a few days after the exam: “You’re an idiot. You wasted your money.” I replied “I bet this is the first time you call someone an idiot who got a decent grade.” He laughed, but didn’t offer to return the bribe.

    That was all I ever did. Except one time I was helping a Chemistry teacher grade exams, and wound up grading my own. I gave myself around 84%, about a B, I guess. The teacher checked that one and didn’t change the grade.

  26. Moosebreath says:

    @Kit:

    “I don’t recall any stories about Bush having had any panic attacks during his time there.”

    Or Kavanaugh.

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  27. Dave Schuler says:

    @Franklin:

    Generally, it was on the basis of having violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That was the law under which the first successful challenge was made in 1978.

  28. James Joyner says:

    @Franklin:

    But on what legal grounds did public universities get sued for using affirmative action in their admissions process?

    The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

  29. Scott says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    while the college-prep high school offers 18-24 AP classes and its graduates routinely graduate with 18+ advanced placement credits.

    In addition, in Texas, at least, AP classes give you a 1.25 multiplier on your grade. My son had a 108 high school average which made him top 6% and an automatic admission to UT.

    As for the rest of this, I’m strangely not getting too exercised over this. Not sure why given that legacy admissions are just as corrupt.

    After this blows over, it would be an interesting exercise to compare the academic records of those who cheated to get in with those who got in the traditional way.

  30. grumpy realist says:

    @Teve: I used to interview for applicants to MIT (P.S. if you have a kid who wants to up his/her admission chances to MIT, take the opportunity for an interview. Adds more meat to the bones in an application file and allows for an extra possible thumbs up from the interviewer.) MIT isn’t looking for just high GPAs–they’re looking for individuals who they think can hack the intensity without flipping out and can really take advantage of the opportunities MIT offers. The applicants I dreaded interviewing were the straight-A students who didn’t have the foggiest idea as to why they wanted to go to MIT (or what they would do there) aside from “my parents thought I should apply.” Interviews with them were always like pulling teeth. Usually included a lot of blinking and “uhhh….” Also usually had no idea as to what they wanted to do in life.

  31. Guarneri says:

    @James Joyner:

    Let me help you. They are related by the moral outrage that the most deserving don’t get admitted. Other factors intervene. You selectively choose to object to the Hollywood wealthy. Well, the entire major collegiate sports business is a sham. Probably only 30% (if that) of high level college basketball or football players could qualify based upon academic merits. Their merits are based upon 3 point shooting and running out routs.

    Please don’t tell me you are so credulous that you actually believe in the academic merit of Alabama football recruits, what with all those physics and chemistry majors you know. How many are phys ed majors. How many attend class? I know former players from the SEC, Big Ten etc. The stories they tell.

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  32. Hal_10000 says:

    @Guarneri:

    Don’t overplay it. I’m sure all those football players at your school qualify on their academic merits…like the ability to run a real quick 40 yard dash…….snicker. I didn’t have a pot to pee in, but I got into The University of Chicago.

    As someone who works at a big school with big athletic programs, you’re full of it. Athletes, overall, tend to have a higher GPA than the general student body. They are more likely to graduate. A lot go on to advanced degrees. And it’s rare these days to see them majoring in underwater basket weaving. Granted, I’m teaching astro so it’s not necessarily representative, but most of the athletes I’ve dealt with study hard, pay attention, come to classes. The University checks on their progress and if they don’t maintain a certain GPA, they lose their scholarship.

    Yeah, there are some dumb jocks on the campus just to play ball. But that’s the exception, not the rule.

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  33. Slugger says:

    This looks like the elite rich keeping a lid on the arriviste wannabees to me. I’m fairly sure that a Kennedy, a Bush, or any scion of the 0.1% gets into the school they want, and I am not sure that there is a whole lot laws broken in that process. The ones immediately below that strata are the people that need to bend the law in the hope that their offspring will join the highest echelon of society. I understand.

  34. EddieinCA says:

    @Guarneri:

    That might have been the case 40 years ago in SOME schools, but as someone who played D-1 Football, I can assure you that the NCAA is especially tough on Student-Athletes. Based on my experience, athletes graduate at a higher rate than most regular students. Now you may have the occasional student athlete who doesn’t carry a real scholastic load, but that’s rare. Additionally, you’d be surprised how many D-1 athletes graduate early, and go on to get graduate degrees.

    This is yet another example of you not knowing what the hell you’re talking about.

  35. EddieInCA says:

    @Hal_10000:

    You beat me to it, and said it better than I did. I should have read the rest of the thread.

    WHAT HAL SAID!!!

  36. Eric Florack says:

    Even Don Lemmon jumped into this one. Interesting.

  37. Timothy Watson says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I still gnash my teeth over the bait and switch that Obama did. During his campaign, he said sensible things about how not everyone needs to go to college, and vocational training is an essential piece of the out-of-poverty pathway for poor families, and we need more apprenticeships, etc. Once elected, it was all “everyone needs a college education”. Blreah. Very disappointing.

    (Yes, I recognize that he was unexpectedly busy dealing with a crashed economy, but it would have been better if he’d done nothing and let his campaign statements stand…)

    Obama was pushing for a free two-years of community college or vocation training, along with 34,000 new apprenticeships, in 2015, after he got elected.
    https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/09/fact-sheet-providing-more-americans-affordable-access-education-and-job

    But, yeah, his first two years in office was him dealing with the economy and health care reform and he never had a cooperative Congress after 2010.

  38. Timothy Watson says:

    @Hal_10000: And what about UNC sending athletes to classes where they write an one-page paper (or don’t) and get an A no matter what? The New York Times called it the “worst academic fraud schemes in college sports history” but UNC was not punished in any way by the NCAA.

  39. James Joyner says:

    @Guarneri:

    Please don’t tell me you are so credulous that you actually believe in the academic merit of Alabama football recruits, what with all those physics and chemistry majors you know. How many are phys ed majors. How many attend class? I know former players from the SEC, Big Ten etc. The stories they tell.

    As @EddieinCA and @Hal_10000 have already noted, college athletes on the whole are top-drawer students. I would agree, however, that many schools, including Alabama, take in athletes in revenue sports—football and men’s basketball—that they wouldn’t otherwise. And, as @Timothy Watson notes, there are sometimes egregious, systemic violations of academic rules even at public Ivies like Carolina.

    On the other hand, Alabama’s football program under Nick Saban has done a remarkable job of getting players to perform in school. A recent independent study found that “the four teams competing in this year’s College Football Playoff — Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma — all had “reasonable academic standing.” Alabama’s graduation rate was 84 percent, Clemson’s 87 percent, Notre Dame’s 95 percent and Oklahoma’s 76 percent.” Across Division I-A, “white football players had a 90 percent graduation rate, while black players were at 73 percent. Both those numbers are up from 2017, when white players had an 87 percent rate and black players were at 71 percent.” That’s pretty good considering that “overall graduation rates for all African-American male students is 41 percent at Division I schools, compared to 66 percent for all white male students.”

    Anecdotally, it’s actually shocking how well some of the players at Alabama do academically considering the rigors of the program. Jalen Hurts, who started at quarterback as a true freshman in 2016-7 and as a sophomore in 2017-18 before losing his job in the second half of the National Championship game, graduated in December 2018 (BA in Communications and Information Science) and has just transferred to Oklahoma where he’ll likely start as quarterback while working on his master’s degree. He’s obviously an exception but a really high number of Alabama players already have their degrees and are working on graduate degrees.

  40. Kit says:

    With regards to college athletes, my only concern is that their schools do right by them. These guys and gals are not stealing places from others. Any degrees they received, deserved or not, are likely to be looked upon with at least a bit of skepticism, so they probably have to fight to earn their foothold in the professional world more than their classmates.

  41. Blue Galangal says:

    @Scott: Indeed, and when I was part of the admissions process for an engineering program, they looked at weighted and unweighted GPA, class rank, and what high school they graduated from, in addition to component scores (math, particularly) from the ACT. It was not unheard of for someone with an unweighted GPA of 3.5 and an ACT of 25 (the bare minimum for the program) to be offered admission with a math ACT of 32. Interestingly, the SAT math score was not given much weight.

    @Slugger:

    This looks like the elite rich keeping a lid on the arriviste wannabees to me. I’m fairly sure that a Kennedy, a Bush, or any scion of the 0.1% gets into the school they want

    Nail, head. It’s about networks and who they get to meet at those schools, not necessarily the quality of education (the way it is for MIT, for instance). The university where I work has a strong co-op program and it’s one of the main reasons students come here – not because it “pays for their education” but because they learn real-world applications and they build a professional network that is going to be in place the rest of their lives.

    @Hal_10000:

    most of the athletes I’ve dealt with study hard, pay attention, come to classes. The University checks on their progress and if they don’t maintain a certain GPA, they lose their scholarship.

    There’s been research that students who play sports (perhaps other extracurriculars but definitely sports) do as well in high school as non-athlete high achievers and usually go on to adapt better to college, and I believe it is because they have to master time management (something else that ought to be taught in schools, IMHO, and is not).

  42. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    While it’s true that academic standards for NCAA students have greatly improved, the issue with this particular case is admissions, which is a different question. The fact is that a lot of athletes, especially those in “money making” programs would not get accepted to a university on academic merit alone.

    The fact that this scam used athletics is not an accident because it is a great way to bypass the normal academic admission requirements.

  43. DrDaveT says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Obama was pushing for a free two-years of community college or vocation training, along with 34,000 new apprenticeships, in 2015, after he got elected.

    I stand corrected, though I think “pushing for” perhaps overstates how much of his administration’s focus that issue got. I admit, though, he did at least keep it as a talking point well into his administration. Thanks for checking on that.

  44. James Joyner says:

    @Andy:

    The fact that this scam used athletics is not an accident because it is a great way to bypass the normal academic admission requirements.

    Maybe, if they were top-tier football or basketball prospects. But these people were just padding their kids’ resumes with fake participation in rich-kid sports like sailing and crew. The real athletes on these teams tend to excel academically and to have come from private academies or very rich school districts.

  45. Tyrell says:

    Think about the families who contribute lots of money to Ivy League and other prestigious schools. That definitely is a big factor in their children being accepted into those exclusive schools.
    This week begins one of the most exciting and fascinating weeks of the year: brackets week, or better known as March madness. The basketball tournaments bring about a literal frenzied preoccupation of the American people. Office radios and tv’s are turned to the games. Schools switch from reading and math to following the games with bracket charts given to students. Afternoon instruction to the televised games, and many students leave early to get to the arenas. Office pools and other informal betting is at a peak. Any news events, major or minor, are off the radar during March Madness and “bracketology”.
    With all this money involved in college athletics, it seems tuition could be lowered a lot.

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  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: Nonsense! The “money” in college athletics is for paying coaches at top tier schools 7-figure salaries. Any money not going into that worthy goal is used to subsidize Title 9 sports that don’t have enough revenue stream to survive otherwise.

  47. Eric Florack says:

    Just as a passing thought, I noticed that the Tennis and soccer coaches for the Obama girls, are among the indictments.

    Mind, I don’t suppose that bribery was involved here. I suspect rather as soon as they saw the name they rubber stamped the applications.

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  48. Ace says:

    @Kit: This exactly what I’ve been saying also. Nice to see a kindred spirit who gets it.

  49. An Interested Party says:

    Just as a passing thought, I noticed that the Tennis and soccer coaches for the Obama girls, are among the indictments.

    Mind, I don’t suppose that bribery was involved here. I suspect rather as soon as they saw the name they rubber stamped the applications.

    Actually, it was just their tennis coach, but nice guilt by association angle…except, of course, the Obama daughters have nothing to do with the colleges/universities connected to their coach…

    …if we really want to play this game, though, we can say that Trump is the most venal, corrupt sleazeball ever to sit in the Oval Office, considering all of his odious connections…

  50. grumpy realist says:

    @Eric Florack: considering you’re so worried about corruption, why don’t you start doing research on how Donald Trump got into Wharton and how his son-in-law got into Harvard?

    I’m sure you’ll be equally dismayed. Not.

  51. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    But these people were just padding their kids’ resumes with fake participation in rich-kid sports like sailing and crew.

    No, they were using athletics to get into the university – it wasn’t merely resume padding, it was a conspiracy with university athletic coaches to allow these students to bypass the normal admissions process by. That’s why so many coaches are getting fired.

  52. Eric Florack says:

    While we’re on the subject of college admissions, let’s discuss the magnificent moron David Hogg getting into Harvard.

    If I recall rightly, David Hogg’s SAT scores were something on the order of 250 points below Harvard average. After being rejected by UCLA and several other schools. Why do you suppose that happened?