Stanford says review finds admissions fraud was limited to one coach

Marc Tessier-Lavigne. Stanford photo.

By the Daily Post staff

Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said today (Dec. 3) that an outside review has found no additional evidence of fraud in athletics admissions at Stanford in the wake of Operation Varsity Blues, which resulted in 50 arrests nationwide earlier this year.

The only arrest at Stanford was that of John Vandemoer, the head sailing coach, who accepted $770,000 in donations to his program in exchange for agreeing to recommend two prospective students for admission to Stanford. Neither student was admitted to Stanford. Vandemoer was fired the day his indictment was revealed. By pleading guilty and cooperating with prosecutors, he avoided jail beyond the one day he served on the day of his arrest, but he did get two-year’s probation.

The donations were orchestrated by college consultant Rick Singer, who pleaded guilty in March to money laundering, racketeering, obstruction of justice and tax evasion for his role in the scheme, which involved bribing coaches and paying off SAT exam proctors to get wealthy teenagers admitted into universities such as USC, UCLA, Yale, Georgetown, Wake Forest, the University of San Diego and the University of Texas at Austin.

Stanford hired the nationally-known law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP to conduct the investigation, which only focused on athletic admissions.

Singer approached seven coaches

According to Tessier-Lavigne, Singer “directly or indirectly” approached seven Stanford coaches about potential recruits between 2009 and 2019. The investigation found that only Vandemoer agreed to support a Singer client.

But the investigators found that there was “no systematic way for concerns about Singer to be elevated and addressed” within the university.

The investigators, after interviewing 55 people and reviewing 35,000 records, found no evidence of any other fraudulent schemes for the admission of student athletes, according to Tessier-Lavigne.

Going forward, Tessier-Lavigne is promising changes in Stanford’s policies and procedures, along with better internal communications and stronger vetting.

Use of money paid by Singer

He also disclosed that the state Attorney General’s office has advised Stanford to take the $770,000 that came from Singer’s clients and give it to an entity or entities that help help high school athletes who need financial support. Tessier-Lavigne said Stanford agrees with the recommendation.

While that wraps up Stanford’s internal review, the U.S. Department of Education is continuing to investigate Stanford and seven other colleges implicated in the Operation Varsity Blues scandal.

The investigation will seek to determine if the universities violated laws and regulations related to federal financial aid programs. If violations are found, the schools could be penalized. They could lose access to Pell grants, and federal student loans could be cut off.

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