Courtesy of Sam Rubin

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors announced that they charged nearly 50 people, including celebrities and university coaches, with paying or accepting bribes to help admit applicants to elite universities, including Yale.

In what authorities are touting as the largest admissions scandal ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice, prosecutors “charge[d] dozens of individuals involved in a nationwide college admissions cheating and recruitment scheme,” according to United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling in a Tuesday press briefing.

According to unsealed documents, the lawsuit accuses former Yale women’s soccer head coach, Rudy Meredith, who was in charge of the program for 24 years and resigned in November of last year, of “accepting bribes in exchange for designating applicants to Yale as recruits for the Yale women’s soccer team, and thereby facilitating their admission to the university.” Meredith is charged with two counts of wire fraud.

Director of Yale Athletics, Vicky Chun, told the News that “the Department of Justice made clear that Yale has been the victim of a crime. The university has fully cooperated with the investigation and will continue to moving forward.”

In an email to the Yale community Tuesday afternoon, Yale President Peter Salovey wrote that the University does not “believe that any member of the Yale administration or staff other than [Meredith] knew about the conspiracy.”

Salovey also added that he was committed to “making certain the integrity of the admissions and athletic recruitment processes is not undermined again.” He suggested that “as the investigation unfolds, the university may take further actions.”

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan did not respond to a request for comment.

The alleged bribery scandal centers around a for-profit admissions company based in Newport Beach California. The owner, William “Rick” Singer, allegedly received $25 million in bribes from parents to help their children cheat on college entrance exams and pass money to varsity coaches, according to prosecutors.

In one example of the bribery cited in the documents, Singer agreed to help “facilitate the admission of an applicant to Yale, known in the case as “Yale Applicant 1”, “in or about” November 2017 in exchange for a $1.2 million payment from the applicant’s parents.

Singer allegedly worked with Laura Janke, the once-assistant women’s soccer coach at The University of Southern California, to create a falsified profile to be included in the applicant’s application.

“[C]ould you please create a soccer profiles asap for this girl who will be a midfielder and attending Yale so she has to be very good. Needs to play Academy and no high school soccer….awards and honors — more info to come — need a soccer pic probably Asian girl,” read a Nov. 10, 2017 email from Singer to Janke, according to court documents.

A subsequent email sent by Singer to Janke after Janke had completed the fake profile read: “we are saying she got hurt this past spring, so was not recruited till now as she got her release late summer.”

According to court filings, after the profile was completed, Singer sent the profile to Meredith “despite the fact that , as Meredith knew at the time, [the applicant] did not play competitive soccer.”

When the applicant was admitted to Yale, Singer mailed Meredith a check for $400,000. In the “spring or summer of 2018”, Singer’s client paid Singer approximately $1.2 million dollars in multiple installments, according to court filings.

Meredith also solicited a bribe directly from the father of a second Yale applicant, which the Department of Justice designated as “Yale Applicant 2”. Meredith met with the father in a Boston hotel room, where the FBI had wiretapped the room. At this meeting, “Meredith accepted $2,000 in cash as a partial payment” towards a total of $450,000, the filing said. Meredith then gave information to the father of Yale Applicant 2 about a Connecticut bank account “to which he wanted any future payments to be wired.” Meredith later received an additional payment of $4,000, which was transmitted to the Connecticut bank account via wire transfer. The money came from a bank account in Boston, Massachusetts “that, unbeknownst to Meredith, was under the control of agents of the FBI,” according to the filing.

The special agent in charge of the Boston office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Joseph R. Bonavolonta, said that this scheme was the product of a “culture of corruption and greed.”

“You can’t lie and cheat to get ahead because you will get caught,” he said.

Nevertheless, Salovey asserted in his communitywide email that the actions of those involved in the scandal do not “detract” from his pride in “the accomplishments and hard work of [Yale’s] student-athletes, athletics program, and admissions staff.”

Singer pled guilty on Tuesday afternoon. Meredith’s initial court appearance is scheduled for March 28.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Bill Gallagher | william.gallagher@yale.edu

Skakel McCooey | skakel.mccooey@yale.edu

  • Jeanne Devine

    Very discouraging to all honest applicants. I’ve been interviewing for the Alumni Schools Committee for four decades and met outstanding students, most of whom would have done well at Yale. To realize that the playing field (pun intended) was this uneven is very disheartening. I always knew bona-fide athletes had enhanced chances of admission, but this revelation goes way, way beyond that.

    • Awal

      Hear hear. I have been doing ASC interviews for 5 or 6 years now. I’ve interviewed about 5 people per year. Many seemed very qualified (although we don’t get to see their applications). None. None have ever been admitted.

  • Peter

    In most cases, the applicant was unaware of what her parents were doing. Will the schools now expel, or not invite back, those whose admittance was fraudulent, even if they have been doing okay in school?

  • Awal

    And Peter Salovey’s first response is to send out a PR-approved statement that “Yale is the victim here.” Just another reason why this doofus needs to be fired or demoted to head of development (his real and only love).

    The victims are the undergrads at Yale who worked their asses off and received their admissions legitimately. The victims were those economically disadvantaged students who were pushed out of the “yes” column because someone had $1 million of throw-away money to perpetrate this fraud. All Yale undergrads and alumni are now a little tainted because the Salovey administration (and Levin before that) couldn’t be bothered to exercise any administrative control. Presumably they were both too busy courting Steven Schwarzman and Charles Johnson. There were clearly no checks and balances in place, and absolutely no one seems willing to tell Salovey that the emperor’s clothes are falling off (if not gone entirely).

    Maybe I’m extreme, but I’m disgusted with how this College and University has been run for the past decade, and this is just further evidence. I’ll have a college-aged daughter in a couple years, and I’m truly ambivalent whether she applies to Yale. Maybe indifferent. I never thought that would be something that I said.

    • ldffly

      Amen. The change in the spirit and principles governing Yale over the last 27 years has been demoralizing to me and many other alumni. The mission has been corrupted by this duo of Levin and Salovey. We need thorough housecleaning.

  • Nancy Morris

    Who was the fraudulently admitted woman, and is she still at Yale?

  • American

    If you bribe an individual, like a coach, to get your kid into a college, that is a crime. If you bribe, oops, “donate to” a college development office, to get your kid into a college, you are fine.

  • Paul Bearer

    Notice that, underneath it all, coaches are allowed to influence admissions and this is considered normal.

  • yokel

    Look to your right and left. In four weeks, one of you won’t be here…just sayin.

  • PurpleJean

    Is the applicant for whom this was done attending Yale?

  • ShadrachSmith

    Yale’s super-secret admissions process hides corruption? What? Did you just bounce off a turnip cart? That’s why it’s super-secret…duh.

  • jeburke

    It’s long past time for colleges like Yale to end the practice of allowing coaches “picks” for admissions. It’s all well and good if they work hard to entice students well qualified for admissions who are also good athletes to apply. But no more special credit for supposed athletic prowess. If that means Yale teams lose more than often, so be it.

    Yale College, 1963

  • heavensdoor

    No one cooperated..they were caught redhanded. So naturally you will agree to what is obvious and try to avoid more prison time. That Yale personnel engages in this behavior is absolutely believable.
    On the other hand..when Yale graduates of fame and fortune have children who are basically barely able to get C’s in High School and are admitted to these Ivy League
    Colleges for hundreds of years..there doesn’t seem to be the same outrage. The schools and their so-called criteria for accepting students is part of the problem.
    Admissions department are in and of themselves a strange world and the ones who deserve to attend are many times overlooked for many reasons that one might consider to be unfair and wrong.

  • John H. Gleason

    The “elite” colleges are beacons for people obsessed with money and prestige.

  • Bigcheese

    Capitalism