A wide assortment of celebrities and wealthy executives are caught up in a new scandal: They’ve been caught bribing college admissions officials to get their kids into tough-to-access universities all over the country.
Former Full House (and current Fuller House) star Lori Laughlin – you remember her as Rebecca, Uncle Jesse’s longtime love interest and Danny’s co-host – is one of the celebrities who’s been arrested in connection with the scam, as have dozens of other Hollywood stars (including William H. Macy), wealthy CEOs and many others.
The elaborate scheme involved falsifying test scores and bribing coaches at schools such as Georgetown, the University of Southern California and the University of Texas. Some of the sports involved were tennis, rowing, water polo and soccer, and college officials were “guaranteeing” spots on sports teams for sports the applicants didn’t even play.
Investigators hunted down details for months, ultimately discovering that wealthy parents had paid a total of $25 million between 2011 and 2018 to get their kids into college. The founder of The Key – the firm that coordinated between the parents and the universities – is a man named Rick Singer. By October of last year, he was cooperating with the FBI in the investigation and began recording phone calls to the parents involved to gather more evidence.
The investigation, called “Operation Varsity Blues,” netted Singer millions. The names of the students involved – many of whom have already graduated college with degrees – aren’t being released at this time, but some of them could eventually be charged.
The University of Southern California has stated that it’s going to use money it received in connection with the scheme to fund scholarships for underprivileged students. And while UCLA said it’s not aware of any student athletes who entered the school under these pretenses, it has put its men’s soccer coach on leave because he’s been charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering. Stanford University fired its head sailing coach, who pleaded guilty to racketerring, and Georgetown’s former tennis coach Gordon Ernst has also been charged. Yale’s women’s soccer team head coach Rudy Meredith is charged with accepting bribes, and officials from Wake Forest, University of San Diego and the University of Texas at Austin have also been fired or put on leave.
What Do You Think?
Have you heard about this scam to get kids into elite colleges? What do you think should happen to the parents and students involved? I’d love to hear your take, so please join the conversation on my Facebook page or on my Twitter feed.