The University of Southern California has fired 15-time national water polo coach of the year Jovan Vavic and senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel after the two were indicted in federal court today for their roles in a scheme prosecutors say helped students cheat college entrance exams and admissions processes.
We covered the whole scandal in more depth earlier today, and you can read that story here. Essentially, a college counseling service connected to a non-profit foundation would take large payments from wealthy parents, using them to bribe various officials to get the parents children into prestigious colleges, prosecutors say. The foundation is accused of arranging for stand-ins to take the ACT or SAT exams for students, and also of getting students falsely classified as recruited athletes in order to benefit from lowered academic standards for admission.
The federal complaint says that Vavic would take payouts from the foundation in exchange for listing students as recruited athletes for the USC water polo team. The students wouldn’t ever actually join the water polo team (some may not have even played the sport at all), but would be subjected to less-strict academic admissions standards when applying to the school. The indictment says that the founder of the foundation paid Vavic at least $250,000 through various channels, and paid for Vavic’s children to attend private school, disguising the payments as a scholarship.
Heinel is accused of helping that process, receiving payments to help students get admitted to the university even if their athletic credentials were falsified. The legal complaint includes transcripts of conversations suggesting that the scam would photoshop false photos of the students playing the sports they didn’t play, to help sell the falsified athletic resumes better.