The recent college admissions cheating scandal is said to be the biggest of the decade, involving elite families cheating their way into Ivy League universities. Dubbed operation “Varsity Blues” by the FBI, it was stumbled upon accidentally during a larger investigation into fraudulent schemes. Coming in the heels of the Elizabeth Holmes Theranos scam investigation, it is the largest college admissions fraud scheme to ever be prosecuted in the United States.
Who Has Been Charged
So far, federal prosecutors have charged 50 people; including college sports coaches, SAT and ACT administrators, college administrators, and a number of affluent parents. Some prominent Hollywood actresses; Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin have been making headlines as parts of the scheme. Huffman is alleged to have used the scheme to stage her 2 daughters as crew members in order to gain admission to USC through their athletic programs while Huffman was said to have given an upward of $15000 to “help” her child get better SAT scores. The ongoing investigation is digging deeper, finding more parties involved and determining whether some students involved will be prosecuted.
The entire operation was said to have been orchestrated by William Rick Singer, CEO of The Key, a college admissions prep company. Singer has pleaded guilty to all charges against him. The mastermind was allegedly involved in helping elite families cheat through standardized tests and fake athletic credentials to gain admissions to top universities at top dollar fees. Singer knew his way around avoiding detection, using his charity organization as the destination of incoming payments disguised as “contributions.” The charity would then cover bribes to universities where his clients were seeking admission as “grants.”
Schools Take Action
Universities implicated in this scam have taken action and commented. UCLA has put their men’s soccer coach on leave following his connection in the investigation. USC fired Dana Heinel, their Senior Athletic Director while Stanford followed suit to fire their implicated sailing coach, John Vandemeer who pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering and conspiracy. USC stated that applicants involved in the scandal will be denied admissions while suspending class registration for the already enrolled students who are involved in the scandal.
Students Cheated Out of an Education
As America watched this unravel, national outrage was felt as the wealthy yet again pulled their muscles to gain an unfair advantage. Many are questioning the validity of the admission process of these elite schools while sympathizing with deserving students who were cheated of their opportunity by the fraudulent system. Jack Buckingham, son of marketing expert Jane Buckingham’s son, admitted that he was not aware his mother bribed to get another student to take his ACT exam. He commented with empathy, saying that he knows that there are deserving students from less fortunate backgrounds and that he was upset by the fact that he was unknowingly involved in a scam that denied them that opportunity.