A Recap of the College Admissions Scandal

Everything you need to know

Lori Loughlin and her two daughters, Bella(left) and Olivia(right), currently attending USC. Photo from eonline.com

It all started on March 12, 2019, when news broke of A-list celebrities using their power and money to secure their children spots into top U.S. universities.  The world was shocked to learn that names such as Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman had paid upwards of $500,000 to fake SAT scores, and bribe USC rowing coaches to designate their children as top recruits to admissions counselors.  Both Huffman and Loughlin, along with Loughlin’s husband Mossimo Gianulli, an extremely successful designer, were taken into custody, and then released on $250,000 and $1,000,000 bonds, respectively.  

Although these are the names we recognize the most, over 50 people were charged in what is being called “largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.”  Dozens of parents have been accused of paying millions of dollars to get their children into schools such as Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, and UCLA.  

Now you may be wondering- how was this all possible?  All of these people involved in the elaborate deception of the college admissions process, and not being caught until now?  Well, your answer lies in 59-year-old Rick Singer. Singer has worked in the college counseling business for almost 30 years and helped all of these families falsify scores and bribe coaches.  However, not all of his college counseling services include breaking the law. Hundreds of families, including Phil Mickelson’s daughter, who now attends Brown University, used his company for legitimate services.

How did authorities first learn about this?  Morrie Tobin, facing two charges of securities fraud for his role involving the manipulation of stock from two companies he secretly owned, let enough information slip that led officials to Rick Singer.  Hoping to face fewer penalties by way of cooperation, disclosed that he had bribed the Yale women’s soccer coach $450,000 to secure his daughter a spot on the team. This sparked a year-long investigation which ended with the arrest of those dozens of parents. 

Fast forward to now.  As of September 17, 2019, U.S.C. has still not taken public action against the 33 students they have under investigation, and current students continue to be in the dark about whether their classmates will be punished for their scamming.  Felicity Huffman has issued a long, handwritten apology and pleaded guilty to her charges.  She has just been sentenced to 14 days in jail.  Huffman being sentenced to jail time has Loughlin and Gianulli in a “panic”.  Loughlin, pleaded not-guilty, if convicted, could face up to 40 years in prison.  As for her social media star daughters Olivia and Bella, the status of their enrollment at the University of Southern California is still unknown.  However, there are rumors that they have no plans to return.

Felicity Huffman & family  Photo from People.com

Most others charged in the case have cooperated fully with officials and pleaded guilty, and have been sentenced accordingly.  When asked if Loughlin and Gianulli should be sentenced to time in jail, senior Kristin Chapman said “Yes, because Huffman’s crimes were not nearly as extreme and she still got 14 days. I don’t think the fact that they are famous should give them an advantage in court.”  Senior Grace Wyckoff noted, “I think she should spend at least a little time in jail, I’m not sure why she didn’t just plead guilty in the first place.”  Now, all we can do is wait.