Ivy League Colleges Tied to Multiple Admissions Federal Investigations
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
When Ivy League basketball great Jerome Allen returned to the University of Pennsylvania to coach the program, he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from billionaire healthcare guru Philip Esformes, according to Allen’s own testimony on Friday.
Allen perpetrated a fraud to recruit Esformes' son -- not a player of Division I talent, but Allen, in exchange for the money, added the Esformes' son to his recruitment list submitted to Penn's admissions office. Penn admits less than 9 percent of its applicants.
At least the son played basketball in the larger federal case -- the children of wealthy Americans revealed in a federal indictment this week were put on preferential recruitment lists, but did not even play the sport.
Esformes, who operated a network of 30 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Florida, is now charged with defrauding the government $1 billion.
Ivy League Standards
“Ivy League alumni are proud of the standards of excellence in academics and athletics that are a tradition of each institution. Of equal value is the fact that student-athletes are full members of the student body, with no special privileges like athletic scholarships,” claims the League.
Then on Tuesday, in a separate case from the Penn fraud, the federal government charged nearly 50 other people, including Hollywood stars, wealthy business leaders and coaches at top American universities, with paying or accepting bribes to admit student applicants.
READ THE FULL FEDERAL CHARGES BELOW
Yale University was named as one of the colleges tied to the scheme. Brown University's spokesman Brian Clark said Brown was never contacted by the FBI as related to the investigation. But, Clark would not answer questions relating what the impact of the Penn and Yale cases do to undermine confidence in the Brown and Ivy League admissions process.
The Ivy League office also refused to respond to questions about the incidents.
In response to the federal indictments, Yale issued a statement claiming to be a victim, “As the federal charging document makes clear, the Department of Justice believes that Yale’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions has been the victim of a crime perpetrated by its women’s soccer coach, who is no longer at the university. The university has cooperated fully in the investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case moves forward.”
“The Office of Undergraduate Admissions relies on varsity coaches to provide honest and expert evaluations of individual applicants’ athletic accomplishments and potential to contribute to a varsity team. The Admissions Committee considers these evaluations alongside the other components of an applicant’s file, but only students whose applications demonstrate their ability to succeed in the academic and residential components of the Yale experience are admitted,” continued in its statement.
Other Universities involved in the federal case included Georgetown University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, and Wake Forest University.
An implication of the controversy rippled to Kingston, Rhode Island. The University of Rhode Island had hired former Georgetown tennis coach Gordie Ernst last August to coach the women's tennis team.
On Tuesday afternoon, URI sent out the following statement. "The University of Rhode Island was made aware of an indictment of head women's tennis coach Gordon Ernst related to incidents that allegedly took place while he was head coach at Georgetown University. As a result, the University has placed Ernst on administrative leave while it continues to review the matter. Ernst was hired by URI in August 2018 as head coach. He has not been involved in the recruitment of any current players nor in the signing of any new recruits."
Federal Charges Against Ernst
“Defendant GORDON ERNST ("ERNST") was a resident of Chevy Chase, Maryland and Falmouth, Massachusetts. Until January 2018, ERNST was employed as the head coach of men's and women's tennis at Georgetown University.
According to court documents, “Between 2012 and 2018, Singer paid ERNST bribes, falsely labeled as "consulting" fees, totaling more than $2.7 million. Singer typically made the payments from one of the KWF charitable accounts and sent them to ERNST via U.S. Mail, including in at least one instance to ERNST's residence in Falmouth, Massachusetts. In exchange for the bribes, ERNST designated at least 12 applicants as recruits for the Georgetown tennis team, including some who did not play tennis competitively, thereby facilitating their admission to Georgetown.”
William Rick Singer ran the charity, Key Worldwide Foundation, which received $25 million in total to guarantee the admissions, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said during a Tuesday news conference. The charitable foundation was allegedly used as a front to run the scam.
On or about August 21, 2015, ERNST wrote to the same admissions officer to "confirm my usage of three spots" ERNST had been allocated for student admissions to Georgetown, as part of the tennis recruitment process.”
Further the documents allege, “ERNST allocated all three spots to the children of Singer's clients, including On or about April 22, 2016, MASERA sent an email to the parents of Georgetown Applicant 1 attaching an invoice in the amount of $400,000 for their purported "private contribution" to KWF. On or about April 28, 2016, the parents of Georgetown Applicant 1 caused $400,000 to be sent to one of the KWF charitable accounts. Between approximately September 11, 2015 and August 29, 2016, ERNST received checks totaling $700,000 from one of the KWF charitable accounts. Between approximately September 11, 2015 and August 29, 2016, ERNST received checks totaling $700,000 from one of the KWF charitable accounts.
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