The Federal Sting To Uncover Fake Athletic Scholarships Was Called ‘Operation Varsity Blues’


The world of college athletics was rocked on Tuesday by the announcement that dozens of non-revenue sports were, in fact, generating millions of dollars for coaches and officials at some major universities around the country. Millions of dollars in bribes allegedly paved the way for students to get accepted to colleges as “student athletes,” with officials fabricating bios and evidence that they played sports they had no interest in to pave the way for entry into college.

Described as the largest college admissions scam in the history of the Department of Justice, more than 50 people were tied up in what was an elaborate ploy to get kids into college in exchange for fake roster spots on non-revenue sports teams at universities like Yale.

As news broke it included some surprisingly Hollywood angles to the story, as Full House alum Lori Loughlin and actress Felicity Huffman were among those charged as two of 33 parents who bribed officials and falsified documents to get their kids into universities. That wasn’t the only reference to the entertainment industry, either. The sting was called “Operation Varsity Blues.”

No, really. It’s named after Varsity Blues.

Operation Varsity Blues was described in the announcement as “complex and extremely labor-intensive,” which does not describe the movie in any way at all.

Starring James Van Der Beek, the 1999 film is a classic high school football movie that is equal parts absurd and oddly entertaining. Sitting at a middling 6.5 on the IMDB scale, it’s beloved by a significant segment of sports fans as the football movie where Jon Voight is a completely unhinged coach who wants to win at all costs, while Van Der Beek’s Mox just wants to have fun playing with the pigskin with his friends.

It’s a film that includes scenes like this, in a movie about high school football players hanging out at a strip club.

So perhaps it’s a bit weird that the sting operation ended up named after a cult classic high school football movie, when you really think about it. But it’s not nearly the most bizarre aspect of the case when you really start to sift through the evidence.

Ruh ro, indeed.