Operation Varsity Blues: 5 Things to Know About the Latest College Admissions Cheating Scandal


A new college admissions scandal is again making headline news across the country, and some big names are involved.

1. The scheme employed a variety of cheating methods

According to charging documents, the investigators in the case have probable cause to believe that beginning as early as 2011, the defendants conspired to:  1) bribe college entrance exam administrators to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams; 2) to bribe varsity coaches and administrators at top universities to designate certain applicants as recruited athletes (or other favored candidates) to facilitate admission; and 3) to use the façade of a charity to conceal the bribe payments. William “Rick” Singer, 58, who has been named as the ringleader in the scheme, was arrested on suspicion of racketeering and running a charity scheme.

2. Some big names schools are involved

Coaches from some of the nation’s most elite colleges and universities have been named as part of the college admissions scheme, including athletic coaches from Yale, Stanford, USC, Wake Forest and Georgetown, among others.

3. Millions of dollars changed hands

Between 2011 and 2018, parents paid Singer as much as $25 million through his charity to bribe coaches and other university officials to designate their children as recruited athletes. As part of the scheme, Wilson developed athletic profiles for the students which included fake honors the students never received.

4. The cheating involved altering test scores

In some instances, the defendants in the case bribed ACT or SAT test administrators to allow a third-party to take the college entrance exams in place of students or to serve as proctors while providing students with correct answers or reviewing their answers after the exam. The altered exams were then sent back to ACT or SAT for scoring. Co-conspirators received as much as $10,000 per test to allow the cheating.

5. A few big name celebrities have been charged in the case

According to the affidavit, Actress Felicity Huffman and Actress Lori Loughlin have been charged, as part of the investigation, with Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. The two actresses are among 33 parents named in the case.

Read the charging document below: