Stanford says admissions scam mastermind tried to recruit 7 coaches
William “Rick” Singer, the mastermind of the college admissions scam, approached seven Stanford coaches about potential recruits between 2009 and his arrest in 2019, Stanford University’s president said on Wednesday.
There was no evidence that any Stanford Athletics employees — aside from the former sailing coach — agreed to support a Singer client in exchange for a financial consideration, according to President Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s summary of an external report by the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.
The revelation that Singer directly or indirectly approached seven coaches shows that Singer cast a much wider net at Stanford than was previously known. Singer was the mastermind of a nationwide scheme to game the college admissions system by cheating on standardized tests and bribing athletics officials for admission.
In all, 52 parents, coaches and organizers have been charged in relation to the case. Singer pleaded guilty to four charges and will be sentenced at a later date.
Former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer was arrested in March and charged with arranging bribes of $110,000 and $160,000 to the sailing program in exchange for designating two applicants as sailing recruits. Vandemoer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering and was sentenced to two years supervised release but no prison time.
The two applicants, who did not have sailing experience, did not complete the application process, university officials previously said. Stanford rescinded the admission of a third student who worked with Singer and Vandemoer to get admitted into the university. Wednesday’s external report says the third student’s application contained false information and the student was not affiliated with the sailing program.
Tessier-Lavigne wrote in the report summary that there was no systematic way for concerns about Singer to be elevated and addressed. The review found no evidence of any other fraudulent schemes for the admission of student-athletes during this period.
The report included several recommendations that Stanford is accepting, including writing a formal policy about donations and athletic recruits.
“Admission of any applicant, student-athlete or not, cannot be bought, and no donor should ever be under the impression that it can. We are currently codifying this practice into a formal written policy to ensure clarity and transparency,” Tessier-Lavigne wrote.
Tessier-Lavigne said Stanford is moving to redistribute $770,000 given to the Stanford sailing program in the form of three gifts from Singer’s sham charity, Key Worldwide Foundation. The California attorney general’s office advised the university that the funds would be best redirected to an entity supporting financially challenged high school students seeking financial support and preparation for college admission.
Stanford will conduct another review in 18 months to ensure the recommendations have been properly implemented.