Kai Nip

Following a bust of the largest-ever college admissions fraud scheme, the Department of Education launched a “preliminary investigation” on Monday into Yale — along with seven other universities — to review its compliance with regulations and requirements for federal student aid.

The investigation follows the indictment of at least 50 individuals, including former women’s soccer coach Rudy Meredith, for cheating the admissions process to gain spots at Yale and other elite higher education institutions. The letter from the Department of Education notifying the universities of the pending investigation stated that the recent scandal has “raise[d] questions about whether your institution is fully meeting its obligations.” Universities receiving federal student aid, like Yale, must demonstrate “administrative capacity” to manage federal dollars, the letter explained. If the investigation reveals that Yale violated federal education regulations, the University may lose its access to Pell grants for low-income students or other federal student loans.

But in a University-wide email on Tuesday, University President Peter Salovey stated that with the exception of a student who was fraudulently admitted, all enrolled students who received an athletic endorsement in the admissions process played at least one season on their varsity sports team. The University has “confirmed the pre-admission athletic credentials” of all Yale athletes who received an endorsement since the 2015 admissions cycle, Salovey added.

“We also have launched a comprehensive review of the procedures we follow in providing an Athletics Department recommendation for the admissions process, to safeguard the integrity of our practices,” Salovey stated in the email. “Should we become aware of any further improprieties in the process, we will take appropriate action.”

Salovey and University spokesman Tom Conroy declined to comment for the story and directed the News to Tuesday’s announcement. Yale Director of Athletics Vicky Chun did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

According to Salovey, the Athletic Department will now review and confirm the athletic credentials of all athletes with a coach’s recommendation to join the University’s varsity sports teams. Salovey explained that the new protocol will provide “a second, higher-level verification” of the athletic credentials before the application information is shared with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan defended Yale’s admissions process, saying that while a range of factors can give candidates priority status, Yale will never vote to admit a student who is not qualified to succeed in both the academic and nonacademic life of Yale College.

“I look forward to working with Director Chun in implementing these changes,” Quinlan said.

As the Department of Education embarks on its investigation into Yale, the agency will review marketing materials, internal policies and procedures related to recruited athletes’ admissions. The Department also requested that universities provide information on the students and faculty members who participated in the alleged scheme.

But according to Michigan State University educational administration professor Brendan Cantwell, it is unlikely for Yale to ultimately lose access to federal student aid. Federal agencies have rarely cut federal aid from institutions of higher education, but Yale may have to implement reforms or be subject to additional federal oversight to maintain its grants, Cantwell explained.

“Higher education, and especially well know[n], high-status places are in the spotlight now in part because of specific allegations of wrongdoing and in part because of a general distrust of established institutions,” Cantwell said. “It seems to me that the political right is concerned with liberal bias and political correctness and the left is worried about fairness and inclusion.”

Other universities being investigated by the Department of Education include the University of Southern California, Stanford University, Georgetown University, The University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University in North Carolina, the University of San Diego and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Serena Cho | serena.cho@yale.edu

Skakel McCooey | skakel.mccooey@yale.edu