Sports

Federal Investigation Shows A USC Associate AD Helped Admit Fake Football Recruits


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A federal sting into a college entrance fraud ring titled OPERATION VARSITY BLUES (yes, that is the real name) concluded with 50 individuals being charged, as parents of kids paid a third party to facilitate payments to school programs and coaches to get students into schools by pretending they were athletic recruits to get them priority in admissions — as well as cheating on entrance exams.

Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman were the two most famous names of those charged, including Loughlin apparently paying $500,000 to get her two daughters into USC by posing them as crew recruits. Yale’s women’s soccer coach made out like a bandit in the scheme, making at least $1.6 million by pretending clients were soccer recruits to help them get into the school.

While most of the programs involved were smaller, non-revenue sports, USC apparently was funneling students through as fake recruits for basketball and, amazingly, football. According to Justice Department documents released on Tuesday, William Rick Singer, who ran the for-profit college prep business that created the fake profiles, made three non-football players into fake football recruits and used associate AD Donna Heinel to push them through to get them priority admissions.

The most brazen of those fake football recruits was the son of William McGlashlan, who was made a profile as a kicker that would walk-on to the USC football team. The catch? The high school he went to didn’t have a football team, but they made him a kicker anyways with a photoshopped image.

Justice Department

Justice Department
Justice Department
Justice Department


As for that long snapper mentioned, that was the son of Marci Palatella, who at least had played football before, but had quit after being told he was too small to play college football.

Justice Department

There was a third alleged player profile created as well. What makes it truly astounding that this scheme worked is that, more so than with any of the other sports, football recruiting is big business and anyone paying attention to the team is fairly aware of who is and isn’t a legit recruit. If we’ve learned anything from this, it’s that the admissions office is not grinding on message boards and following recruiting very seriously, and simply listens to what they’re told by the department.

The fallout from this scandal will be fascinating to see, but it does show how tilted the scales are towards the rich and how corrupt the college entrance process can be.

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