sports 1 week ago

Texas says internal review found no more admissions fraud

The Associated Press — By JIM VERTUNO - Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The University of Texas said Monday an internal review of athletics admissions after the school was snared in a national bribery scandal found no additional cases of students fraudulently awarded entry.

Texas said it reviewed more than 800 athletes enrolled from summer 2012 to spring 2017, and all men's tennis athletes over the last 18 years, a span that would cover former tennis coach Michael Center's time at the school.

Center pleaded guilty in April to federal charges that he accepted about $100,000 in bribes — including a $60,000 cash handoff outside an Austin hotel — to help a student from California get around the school's tough academic admissions by designating him a tennis recruit with a "books" scholarship. Once enrolled, the student left the team, renounced the scholarship and stayed in school.

Center was among 51 people charged in a scheme in which prosecutors say wealthy parents paid an admissions consultant to bribe coaches and test administrators to help their children get into college. The investigation ensnared coaches and officials at several top schools. The charges touched lower-profile sports such as tennis, sailing, soccer and water polo, and pulled in other prestigious schools such as Stanford, Yale and Southern California.

"The scandal undermined the public's trust and provoked outrage," university President Greg Fenves said in a letter to students, faculty and alumni. "At UT, we are holding ourselves accountable and improving protocols across Texas athletics."

Texas did not release its full legal review, citing federal student privacy laws, but issued an executive summary of its findings and recommendations from Fenves.

Fenves said Texas will require more rigorous vetting of recruits by coaches and admissions officials. Coaches will have to provide a more detailed, written assessment of a recruit's athletic accomplishments, and ratings by independent sources, which will be reviewed by admissions officials.

"This recommendation alone should eliminate the risk of a future admission of a student-athlete who has no meaningful connection to the sport," Fenves wrote.

Athletes who drop out of their sport shortly after arriving on campus will be more closely scrutinized. Any student who withdraws from athletics during their first semester in college should be reviewed to validate their athletic legitimacy, Fenves said.

Center was fired a day after he was indicted in March and is awaiting sentencing.