The largest college admission scandal in U.S. history arose on March 12 when the FBI accidentally uncovered the case while working on another fraud case. The scandal includes fifty people that were involved in admitting students of wealthy families through faked athletic performance in high school and cheating on standardized testing. The investigation is called “Operation Varsity Blues.”
“This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud,” said U.S. attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling. “There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy, and I’ll add that there will not be a separate criminal justice system either.”
The prominent people involved in the scandal include actress Felicity Huffman, actress Lori Loughlin, designer Mossimo Giannulli, CEO of The Key William Rick Singer and more. The wealthy parents of the admitted students paid Singer through the disguise of donations to The Key, which is an organization designed to help students with college applications. The payments were actually bribes to test administrators and college coaches. Singer made approximately $25 million through payments from the wealthy families.
“I created a side door that would guarantee families would get in,” admitted Singer during his hearing at a federal court in Boston where he pleaded guilty to the allegations.
These students had to fake a learning disorder in order to test in a separate room from other students, which then allowed privacy for the proctor would alter the students’ answers.
Other than standardized testing, families also utilized the desire for competitive athletes to get their kids that were not actually involved in sports into big name colleges. In order to fake this claim, the families involved in the scandal paid money in order for their kids to be admitted as a recruit for an unpopular sport or paid to get their kids photoshopped into skilled athletic photos.
Lori Loughlin’s daughters, Olivia Jade and Bella Giannulli, paid $500,000 total in order to pass them off as recruits for the crew team. Wealthy CEO Bill McGlashan paid to have a fabricated football profile.
“I’m gonna make him a kicker/punter and they’re gonna walk him through with football,” said Singer to McGlashan in a voicemail. “I’ll get a picture and figure out how to photoshop and stuff, so it looks like it, and the guy who runs the biggest kicking camp is a good friend.”
The parents involved were charged by the FBI with criminal charges as well as civil lawsuits. These were not the only ramifications. Parents lost work over the scandal and kids with jobs did as well.
Lori Loughlin was cut from her current projects with Hallmark and the Netflix original show, “Fuller House”. Her influencer daughter, Olivia Jade, also had business ties severed with Amazon, Dolce & Gabbana, Lulus, Marc Jacobs Beauty, Sephora, Smashbox Beauty Cosmetics, Smile Direct Club, Too Faced Cosmetics, Boohoo and TRESemmé. HP had a partnership with both the mom and daughter and it has since been halted.
Olivia Jade has been highly criticized by many because of her previous comments she has made on YouTube regarding school.
“I don’t know how much of school I’m going to attend,” said Olivia Jade in a YouTube video posted when she started USC last year. “But I do want the experience of game days, partying. I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.” She apologized in a later video for her comment.
A close friend of Olivia Jade has made it known that Olivia has no plans to go back to University of Southern California after spring break. When the news broke of the scandal, Olivia was on the USC board chairman Rick Caruso’s yacht. His daughter Gianna Caruso is a fellow influencer and is friends with Olivia.
The parents are not the only ones being punished; the nation’s top universities have responded to the scandal. The colleges included in the scandal are Georgetown University, Stanford University, UCLA, USC, University of San Diego, University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University and Yale University.
These colleges, specifically coaches, took part in faking athletic performances for potential students of these wealthy parents. UCLA and it’s athletic department made a statement that “the conduct alleged in the filings revealed today is deeply disturbing and in contrast with the expectations we have of our coaches to lead their teams with honesty and integrity. If the facts alleged are true, they represent a grave departure from the ethical standards we set for ourselves and the people who work here.”
USC was one of the colleges known to have taken a big part in the scandal and has already responded to the multiple facades that the crimes brought about. University spokesman Gary Polakovic reported that any applicants that are involved in the cheating deception will be denied admission.
Interim President Wanda M. Austin said USC “has identified at least $1.3 million in donations from those involved in the scheme, and that money will be redirected to scholarships for underprivileged students,” according to CBS News.
Multiple test administrators and an exam proctor of standardized tests were charged alongside the coaches and parents.