3 Pac-12 Programs Dismiss Top Coaches Amid Admissions Bribery Scandal; NCAA Investigating
Athletic coaches at USC, UCLA and Stanford got the boot Tuesday after federal prosecutors announced more than 50 people have been indicted in a college admissions bribery scandal.
Coaches were among those charged with racketeering conspiracy for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for admitting students as athletes, regardless of their ability.
UCLA says its soccer coach Jorge Salcedo has been placed on leave pending a review and will have no involvement with the team.
The university said in a statement Tuesday it’s a “potential victim of a fraudulent scheme” but that it’s not aware of any student-athletes who are under suspicion.
Court documents say Salcedo, who was the head coach for the men’s team, helped get two applicants who did not play competitive soccer into UCLA in exchange for $100,000 in 2016 and 2018.
Authorities say nine coaches at elite schools were part of the scheme.
USC fired its legendary men’s and women’s water polo coach Jovan Vavic and Donna Heinel, the senior associate athletic director, after the allegations were made public.
Two former USC athletics staffers — women’s soccer coach Ali Khosroshahin and his assistant coach, Laura Janke — were also named in the federal indictment, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Court documents say Vavic was paid $250,000 and designated two students as recruits for his water polo team to facilitate their admission to the university.
Prosecutors allege Heinel also helped facilitate admissions after she was paid bribes. Heinel’s attorney had no comment Tuesday.
FBI spokesman Jason White says Vavic was taken into custody Tuesday in Honolulu. It’s not clear if he has an attorney to speak for him.
USC says it is reviewing any admissions decisions and payments tied to the case.
At Stanford, the head sailing coach admitted to accepting bribes to help students get into school after being fired Tuesday.
John Vandemoer was the second person to plead guilty Tuesday — after a Newport Beach college consultant — in the sweeping bribery scheme. Vandemoer is charged with racketeering conspiracy, allegedly accepting a total of $270,000 in contributions to the school’s program.
Authorities say Vandemoer conspired with the admissions consultant, William “Rick” Singer, to pretend two prospective students were competitive sailors in exchange for payments to the Stanford sailing program. Neither student ended up attending Stanford.
His attorney, Rob Fisher, says that Vandemoer regrets that Stanford has been dragged into the case and that Vandemoer loved the school and its students.
The school said Tuesday that neither student came to Stanford but that “the alleged behavior runs completely counter to Stanford’s values.”
Stanford said it has no evidence that anyone else at the school is involved but will conduct an internal review.
Other coaches are accused at schools including Georgetown University and Wake Forest University, the latter of which has suspended its head volleyball coach.
The NCAA says it will look into claims made against college coaches and administrators in the scandal.
In a statement, the NCAA says the “charges brought forth today are troubling and should be a concern for all of higher education.”
Most NCAA rules that regulate recruiting are aimed at preventing schools and coaches from giving improper benefits and enticements to athletes.
In this case, parents were paying coaches to help students gain entry to college by falsifying athletic credentials and claiming that the students were being recruited to plays sports.
The NCAA says it is reviewing the allegations “to determine the extent to which NCAA rules maybe have been violated.”
Prosecutors say the investigation is ongoing but that it appears schools were not involved in the scheme.