College Admissions Fraud Unveiled
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From the New York Times:

College Admissions Scandal: Actresses, Business Leaders and Other Wealthy Parents Charged

By Jennifer Medina and Katie Benner
March 12, 2019

Federal prosecutors charged dozens of people on Tuesday in a major college admission scandal that involved wealthy parents, including Hollywood celebrities and prominent business leaders, paying bribes to get their children into elite American universities.

Thirty-three parents were charged in the case and prosecutors said there could be additional indictments to come. Also implicated were top college coaches, who were accused of accepting millions of dollars to help admit students to Wake Forest, Yale, Stanford, the University of Southern California and other schools, regardless of their academic or sports ability, officials said.

The parents included the television star Lori Loughlin and her husband, the fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli; the actress Felicity Huffman; and William E. McGlashan Jr., a partner at the private equity firm TPG, officials said.

Here’s a video of Felicity Huffman’s husband William H. Macy answering investigators’ questions in a confidence-inducing manner:

The case unveiled Tuesday was stunning in its breadth and audacity. …

The charges also underscored how college admissions have become so cutthroat and competitive that some have sought to break the rules. The authorities say the parents of some of the nation’s wealthiest and most privileged students sought to buy spots for their children at top universities, not only cheating the system, but potentially cheating other hard-working students out of a chance at a college education.

In many of the cases, prosecutors said, the students were often not aware that their parents were doctoring their test scores and lying to get them into school.

“The parents are the prime movers of this fraud,” Andrew E. Lelling, the United States attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said Tuesday during a news conference. Mr. Lelling said that those parents used their wealth to create a separate and unfair admissions process for their children. …

At the center of the sweeping financial crime and fraud case was William Singer, the founder of a college preparatory business called the Edge College & Career Network, also known as The Key. Federal prosecutors did not charge any students or universities with wrongdoing.

The authorities said Mr. Singer, who has agreed to plead guilty to the charges and cooperated with federal prosecutors, used The Key and its nonprofit arm, Key Worldwide Foundation, which is based in Newport Beach, Calif., to help students cheat on their standardized tests, and to pay bribes to the coaches who could get them into college with fake athletic credentials.

Mr. Singer used “The Key” as a front, allowing parents to funnel money into an account that would not have to pay federal taxes.

Parents paid Mr. Singer about $25 million from 2011 until February 2019 to bribe coaches and university administrators to designate their children as recruited athletes, which effectively ensured their admission, according to the indictment.

Mr. Singer is also accused of bribing Division 1 athletic coaches to tell admissions officers that they wanted certain students, even though the students did not have the necessary athletic credentials.

Interesting that there are no accounts of Liz Warren-like race fraud yet to go along with Jock Fraud. We’ll see if that develops.

Most elite universities recruit student athletes and use different criteria to admit them, often with lower grades and standardized test scores than other students. Admissions officers typically set aside a number of spots in each freshman class for coaches to recruit students to their teams.

So, these coaches agree to recruit some deadweight nonjocks in return for, what, direct bribes? Must not be real competitive sports, if you can keep your coach job while recruiting nonathletes for your team.

Mr. Singer also helped parents go to great lengths to falsely present their children as the sort of top-flight athletes that coaches would want to recruit.

Mr. Singer fabricated athletic “profiles” of students to submit with their applications, which contained teams the students had not played on and fake honors they had not won. Some parents supplied “staged photographs of their children engaged in athletic activity,” according to the authorities; and Mr. Singer’s associates also photoshopped the faces of the applicants onto images of athletes found on the internet.

That seems like a lot of work. I wonder if this guy offered Fake Grandmothers to get on the Diversity Train too? That would seem less risky to fake a story about how Madison’s maternal grandma was a poor Immigrant of Color from Gautelombia, but the Birth Certificate Office collapsed in the big earthquake and subsequent civil war, so all we have is this second hand copy of a picture of grandma chopping sugarcane as a muchacha.

It would seem cheaper to bribe a Gautelombian civil servant to provide fake documentation than an Ivy League sports coach.

But maybe Diversity Fraud is something rich white people, Liz Warren excepted, just won’t do? We’ll see …

In one example detailed in an indictment, the parents of a student applying to Yale paid Mr. Singer $1.2 million to help her get admitted. The student, who did not play soccer, was described as the co-captain of a prominent club soccer team in Southern California in order to be recruited for the Yale women’s soccer team. The coach of the Yale soccer team was bribed at least $400,000 to recruit the student.

Well, $400k …

“This girl will be a midfielder and attending Yale so she has to be very good,” Mr. Singer wrote in an email detailing instructions, adding that he would need “a soccer pic probably Asian girl.”

After the profile was created, Mr. Singer sent the fake profile to Rudolph Meredith, the head coach of the women’s soccer team at Yale, who then designated her as a recruit, even though he knew the student did not play competitive soccer, according to the complaint.

So then what? Does the coach announce that the player has a bad knee and will redshirt her freshman season, and then the player withdraws from sports as a sophomore but gets to stay at Yale?

A friend of mine got recruited to play football by an Ivy League college in the 1970s. He gave up college football after his freshman year, but they let him stay and get his degree.

In contrast, at big time football factories where they give out athletic scholarships, if you get cut from the football team, they usually revoke your scholarship so they can use it on somebody else more promising, and you are likely gone gone gone from the college.

Yale, being in the Ivy League, has no athletic scholarships, but it has generous financial aid tuition discounting for middle class parents. Presumably, these clients don’t need either, they just want to get their kids into Yale, cost be damned.

Anyway, a pattern to look for would be coaches who recruit athletes who never use scholarships because redshirt for a year and then quit sports. Scholarships are limited by the NCAA, so coaches presumably don’t want to hand them out to nonjocks in order to stay competitive and not get fired for losing. But if the Sailing Team is like the football team, well, you can redshirt a kid for a year. Does that count against scholarships, or is the assumption that the kid will use his 4 year scholarship over years 2 thru 5?

Anyway, the Ivy League doesn’t have scholarships, but they do give athletes big breaks on admissions, which is, why, say Harvard advanced to the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament a few years ago for the first time. Does any outside agency limit the number of jocks whom Harvard can accept with lower standards?

I knew a kid who got into Harvard because he’s roughly the size of LeBron James. The funny thing was that he didn’t really care about his sport all that much, he just worked really hard at his sport to get into Harvard. It was funny reading interviews with him in the Harvard Crimson because clearly the undergrad sportswriter cared a lot more about his sport than did the prize new recruit, who seemed like he just wanted to get back to his homework.

In its investigation, known internally as Operation Varsity Blues, the government focused on the role that it said the 33 indicted parents played in a scandal that also ensnared two standardized test administrators, a test proctor, and more than a dozen coaches at top schools including the University of Texas at Austin and the University of California.

Those parents were willing to pay between $15,000 and $75,000 per test, which went to college entrance exam administrators who helped their children cheat on them by giving them answers, correcting their work or even letting third parties falsely pose as their children and take the tests in their stead, according to the indictment.

I’ve been calling for a number of years for a prestigious National Commission to investigate all aspects of testing to make it more secure from cheating.

Mr. Singer instructed at least one parent, Mr. McGlashan, the partner at TPG, to claim that his son had learning disabilities in order to gain extended time for him to take his college entrance exam alone, over two days instead of one, according to court documents.

The government said that Mr. McGlashan’s son was told to take the exam at one of two test centers where Mr. Singer worked with test administrators who had been bribed to allow students to cheat — one in Houston and one in West Hollywood. And Mr. Singer told Mr. McGlashan to fabricate a reason, such as a wedding, for why their children would need to take the test in one of those locations. …

During the phone call, Mr. Singer told Mr. Caplan that nearly 800 other families had used what he called “side doors” to get their children into college. “What we do is we help the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school,” Mr. Singer said. “They want guarantees, they want this thing done.”

“There is a front door which means you get in on your own,” Mr. Singer told Mr. Caplan. “The back door is through institutional advancement, which is 10 times as much money. And I’ve created this side door in.”

I presume “institutional advancement” means writing a check directly to the college endowment. A friend told me around 2010 that he’d made some calls and found that “the Harvard number” to get an undistinguished but not flagrantly unsuitable child into Harvard College was $5 million. “Damn hedge fund guys ruin it for everybody,” he lamented about the high price of getting your child into Harvard the old fashioned way.

By the way, the legal way is tax-deductible.

So, the sales pitch here that you can bribe your way into H-Y-P-S for a few hundred thousand slipped to the right people rather than donate 10 times as much to the Endowment makes sense. (This firm set up a way for parents to deduct their payments.)

A question I had back in 2007 involved the very high returns on investment being achieved by the Yale and Harvard endowments, which seemed to raise questions (in my mind at least) about the Efficient Markets Hypothesis, which suggests you can’t beat the market in the long run without Inside Information. But who would be more likely to have their hands on some inside info than rich dads desperate to get their scions into Yale and Harvard?

Mr. Singer told Mr. Caplan that his daughter wouldn’t know that her standardized test scores had been faked.

“Nobody knows what happens,” Mr. Singer said, according to the transcript of the call. “She feels great about herself. She got a test a score, and now you’re actually capable for help getting into a school. Because the test score’s no longer an issue. Does that make sense?” …

Universities were quick to respond on Tuesday. According to the indictment, Stanford University’s head sailing coach, John Vandemoer, took financial contributions to the sailing program from an intermediary in exchange for agreeing to recommend two prospective students for admission.

From the Orange County Register:

USC fires associate AD Donna Heinel, legendary water polo coach Jovan Vavic in college admissions bribery scandal

By JOEY KAUFMAN | | Orange County Register
PUBLISHED: March 12, 2019 at 1:55 pm |

USC fired senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and legendary water polo coach Jovan Vavic after they were indicted in federal court earlier Tuesday as part of a nationwide college admissions bribery case.

Vavic, a 15-time national coach of the year, had led the women’s water polo team to a 19-0 start this season, and the Trojans were to face Hawaii in Honolulu on Saturday.

Okay, so a few things are starting to become clearer. Due to Title IX requiring equal numbers of male and female athletic openings, roughly speaking, American colleges have a vast oversupply of open spots in not very feminine sports like women’s water polo and even women’s basketball. So some top water polo coach like the big ex-Yugoslav water polo coach Vavic can bring in some cash on the side by admitting some girls who don’t play water polo to be on injured reserved while they pursue film studies or whatever, without it making the actual women’s water polo team notably less competitive. There are only X number of high school girls each year who care about water polo and are really good at it, and USC gets a bunch of them, so the USC coach can sell spots among his recruits and still go 19-0.

Heckuva job, Title IX!

Anyway, if American celebrities are concocting fake athletic careers for their kids, how much do you think we Americans can trust the college applications coming out of Guangdong? Just asking …

Unsilenced Science keeps track of SAT/ACT college admissions test scores by race:

The Asian scores (yellow line) have been pulling from everybody else for the last two decades.


Also, Native Americans’ test scores are in freefall. I hope that that’s just because being an American Indian isn’t cool anymore so bright Liz Warren types are going back to labeling themselves as white. Or it could be that Indians are collapsing.

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