Yale rescinds admission of student linked to scandal involving soccer coach

Yale University confirmed Monday that it rescinded the admission of a student linked to a college admissions scandal allegedly involving cheating and bribery.

Students walk on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

The university’s former women’s soccer coach, who is set to appear Thursday in federal court, was indicated in court documents to be a cooperating witness in an FBI probe that has yielded charges for 50 people, including numerous other coaches and wealthy parents.

“Yale has rescinded the admission of one student as a result of this matter,” spokesman Tom Conroy said in a statement. Yale did not provide any other details about the student.

Former Yale women’s soccer coach Rudy Meredith, who resigned in November 2018 and who was charged with two counts of wire fraud, was alleged by federal authorities to have agreed to designate a student in November 2017 as a recruit for his team despite knowing that she “did not play competitive soccer.” After she was admitted to Yale, authorities said, he received a $400,000 payment from Rick Singer, another cooperating witness and the alleged mastermind of the whole scheme who was paid $1.2 million by relatives of the student.

The FBI also said it “surreptitiously recorded” Meredith in April 2018 when he demanded a $450,000 bribe and accepted partial payments from a parent in exchange for designating another student as a soccer recruit. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that authorities were tipped off to Singer’s scheme by a financial executive who was seeking leniency in an unrelated securities-fraud case and who said he had been approached by Meredith for a bribe.

After the scandal – which has also involved universities including Georgetown University; Stanford University of California, Los Angeles; University of Southern California; and Wake Forest University – became public, Yale said on its website, “There is strong reason to believe Rudy Meredith provided fraudulent athletic endorsements to two applicants; one was denied admission despite the endorsement, and the other was admitted and is attending Yale.”

“On the very rare occasion when Yale receives an allegation that a current student included false information in an application, Yale gives the student the opportunity to address the allegation,” the school said at the time. “If Yale determines that the allegation is true, the student’s admission is rescinded, based on language in the application that requires applicants to affirm that everything in the application is true and complete.”

On Sunday, Conroy told Yale’s student newspaper, the Daily News, that the school has hired outside counsel to help with an internal review, but he said Yale does not believe that other students were involved.

Meredith is expected to plead guilty when he appears Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boston. On Monday, 12 people charged in the case, including six current and former college coaches and a former college athletics administrator, pleaded not guilty.

That group included Gordon Ernst, a former tennis coach at Georgetown who also tutored Michelle Obama and her two daughters in the sport while working at the school. He is alleged to have received a total of $2.7 million from Singer between 2012 and 2018, according to authorities, for having “designated at least 12 applicants as recruits for the Georgetown tennis team, including some who did not play tennis competitively, thereby facilitating their admission to Georgetown.”

An attorney for former USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic, who also pleaded not guilty Monday, said his client “is not only a highly decorated water polo coach, having won 14 national championships, but a great family man of renowned integrity.” The attorney added, “He is innocent of these charges and will prove so in court.”

Aside from the coaches, others who appeared in court Monday were connected to a part of Singer’s scheme that involved producing fraudulent results on standardized tests, including the SAT and ACT, or who were connected to his business. Among those due at the Boston courthouse next are actresses Lori Loughlin, whose fashion-designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, was also charged, and Felicity Huffman.

Singer’s scheme is alleged to have garnered him about $25 million between 2011 and 2018. He pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges of fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and racketeering.

Federal documents say Singer sent Meredith in 2017 a resume for the student on whose behalf the coach would accept the $400,000 bribe, with Singer writing that he would “revise” the student’s art portfolio to “soccer.” Singer subsequently provided Meredith with “an athletic ‘profile’ that falsely described” the student as “the co-captain of a prominent club soccer team in southern California.”

Yale President Peter Salovey said this month that he was “profoundly dismayed and disturbed” by the FBI’s findings, but he emphasized that Meredith “no longer works at the university,” which he described as the “victim of a crime.”

Salovey added: “The corrupt behavior alleged by the Department of Justice is an affront to our university’s deeply held values of inclusion and fairness. I want to assure our community that I am committed to making certain the integrity of the admissions and athletic recruitment processes is not undermined again.”

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