BOSTON — Two of the colleges caught up in a sweeping admissions fraud investigation said Wednesday that they were considering disciplining students who were connected to the scheme. And the fallout from the case was just beginning.
Colleges where coaches were accused of taking bribes were reeling. Wealthy and well-known parents charged in the case were preparing to make their first appearances in court or were free on bail. And companies were distancing themselves from executives accused of paying a consultant to use bribes and deceit to raise their children’s test scores or get them admitted to their chosen schools through athletic recruiting spots, despite their not being competitive athletes.
The University of California, Los Angeles, where the former men’s soccer coach is accused of taking $200,000 in bribes to help two students gain admission, warned Wednesday that it might punish students whose applications contained misrepresentations, including by revoking their admission.
“If UCLA discovers that any prospective, admitted or enrolled student has misrepresented any aspect of his/her application, or that information about the applicant has been withheld, UCLA may take a number of disciplinary actions, up to and including cancellation of admission,” the university said in a statement.
The University of Southern California, where three coaches and the senior associate athletic director were charged with taking bribes, said that it would reject any current applicants who are connected to the bribery scheme.
Wanda Austin, the school’s interim president, also said that current students whose parents have been charged with paying the bribes would also be investigated. It is unclear how many current or prospective USC students are implicated.
These were the first indications that students themselves would face consequences in the scandal. While prosecutors have charged 33 wealthy parents, they have not charged any students. Andrew E. Lelling, the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, described parents as “the prime movers of this fraud.”
Also Wednesday, several of the parents who were charged in the case appeared or were expected to appear in court.
Actress Lori Loughlin surrendered to FBI agents in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning, a spokeswoman for the agency said. Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their two daughters accepted as recruits for the rowing team at USC, even though neither took part in the sport. Giannulli was arrested Tuesday and released on $1 million bail.
Loughlin appeared in court Wednesday afternoon. Hours before, local TV crews were lined up on the sidewalk outside the Roybal Federal Building in Los Angeles. In the courtroom, wearing large glasses and a cream sweater, Loughlin looked calmly forward sitting behind a pane of glass. She glanced once at the reporters packed into the seats.
She agreed to post $1 million bond secured by her home. The judge allowed her to travel the continental United States and to the province of British Columbia for work projects, through December of this year with supervision. She was expected to be released Wednesday afternoon.
Other prominent parents were placed on leave from their employers or stepped down from other posts.
Gordon Caplan, a co-chairman of global law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, who is accused of paying $75,000 to have someone correct his daughter’s answers on the ACT exam, was put on leave by his firm Wednesday. Reached by phone, Caplan declined to comment.
William E. McGlashan Jr., a partner at private equity firm TPG, was also placed on leave Tuesday by his company. On Wednesday, he stepped down from the board of STX Entertainment, the film studio that he helped found with film producer Robert Simonds. The news was shared in an internal memo sent to STX employees and reviewed by The New York Times.
STX is funded in large part by McGlashan’s firm, TPG. STX said in the internal note that TPG remained committed to the studio, whose movies include the comedy “The Edge of Seventeen.”
The central figure in the case, William Singer, a college admissions consultant based in Newport Beach, California, pleaded guilty to racketeering and other charges in Boston on Tuesday and was released on bond.
The colleges where coaches were accused of taking bribes, a group that included USC, Stanford, Yale, UCLA and Georgetown, have generally portrayed themselves as victims of the scheme. The coaches who were still employed at the schools when the charges were announced were all either fired or placed on leave.
Also Wednesday, the University of Texas at Austin announced that it had fired its men’s tennis coach, Michael Center, who was charged with taking a bribe of $100,000 from Singer in 2015 in exchange for recruiting a student who was not a competitive tennis player.
In a letter sent to the university community Tuesday, Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, wrote: “As the indictment makes clear, the Department of Justice believes that Yale has been the victim of a crime perpetrated by a former coach who no longer works at the university. We do not believe that any member of the Yale administration or staff other than the charged coach knew about the conspiracy. The university has cooperated fully in the investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case moves forward.”
The accusations against Singer, also known as Rick Singer, pose potential problems for the organizations behind the two most widely used college admissions tests, the SAT and the ACT, which most colleges weigh in evaluating prospective students.
According to prosecutors, Singer bribed test administrators and proctors to tamper with students’ answer sheets, or in some cases to take the whole test in a student’s place, to obtain the scores that were agreed in advance with the parents who paid him.
The conspiracy relied on the parents getting medical documentation that would entitle their children to extra time on the test, an accommodation normally made for students with disabilities. Students who need extra time generally take the test alone, supervised only by a proctor — providing the opportunity for a bribed proctor to rig the outcome. Singer advised parents on how to get the medical documentation needed to qualify.
According to court filings, in a conversation with Caplan, Singer explained that for $4,000 or $5,000, a psychologist he worked with would write a report saying. Caplan’s daughter had disabilities and required special accommodations. He assured Caplan that many parents did this for their children.
“What happened is, all the wealthy families that figured out that if I get my kid tested and they get extended time, they can do better on the test,” Singer said in the conversation. “So most of these kids don’t even have issues, but they’re getting time. The playing field is not fair.”
Zachary Goldberg, a spokesman for the College Board, which administers the SAT, defended the extra-time policy. “The College Board considers all reasonable requests for accommodations — such as large print, Braille, or extended time — needed by students with documented disabilities,” he said.
The board asks for documentation in some cases, Goldberg said, but in the “vast majority” of cases, the modifications are granted through the schools that students attend, where they are evaluated and given an individualized education program.
Goldberg said that the people who administer the SAT in schools, including test-center supervisors and proctors, are recruited and assigned by the schools.
“Deliberate misconduct by testing staff is rare and, if it does occur, can result in the staff member or even the school being barred from further testing,” he said.
Goldberg said that the board had worked with law enforcement on this case, and that the arrests sent a message that “those who facilitate cheating on the SAT — regardless of their income or status — will be held accountable.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.