Admissions scandal rocks the U.S.

Colleges take action against students who may be associated with the scheme

The University of Southern California (USC) said in a statement on Monday that it has placed holds on the accounts of students who may have been associated with an admissions scheme.

They will not be able to register for classes or acquire transcripts while the university investigates the matter. Other universities have made similar investigatory moves.

The college admissions scandal has rocked the nation’s elite universities and placed current college coaching practices and admissions procedures under scrutiny.

Last week, the U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts charged 50 affluent individuals with fraud and bribery of admissions personnel at elite universities including Yale, Stanford and the USC.

Among the more famous indicted are TV stars Felicity Huffman of Desperate Housewives and Lori Louglin of Full House and Fuller House. Loughlin and her fashion designer husband allegedly paid bribes of $500,000 to have their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team, despite having never participated in crew.

Their 19-year-old daughter, famously known as Olivia Jade, gained notoriety after the scandal broke. Jade is a YouTuber with almost 2 million subscribers and 1.4 million followers on Instagram. In late September, she was paid by Amazon to post about her decorating her USC dorm on her Instagram with gear from the company.

William Singer is the college coach at the center of the alleged organized bribery and fraud scheme. Prior to the charges, he operated a for-profit admissions business known as The Edge College & Career Network as well as a nonprofit, the Key World Foundation.

Singer worked with nearly 700 clients through these two college coaching organizations. However there is no indication that all of these clients participated in the alleged schemes.

Singer pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, tax conspiracy and obstruction of justice and faces up to 65 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine if convicted.

Prior to the announcement of the wider charges, Singer cooperated with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a deal that included wearing a wire and implicating others involved in the scheme.

Students were allegedly granted admission to universities through multiple fraudulent methods. Parents would allegedly pay between $200,000 and up to $6.5 million to Singer which he would then use to arrange for a third party to take admissions tests such as the ACT or SAT or for coaches at various universities to recruit the individuals as student-athletes.

In a number of cases, students recruited as athletes were not actively involved in the sport at their respective high schools.

Direct university applications were also allegedly falsified. 

The scheme had allegedly been going on since 2011 and was discovered through an unrelated case.

The FBI and DOJ have been investigating for more than a year.   

By: Jack Dunn and Ryan Kambich | U.S. & World News Editor and Opinions & Editorial Editor