The University of Southern California has been littered with controversy over the past 15 years and this past week, the newest scandal has just added to the lengthy list.
USC is the focal point of what has been described by the U.S. Justice Department as the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted. 50 people were indicted on March 12, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.
Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli have been charged with paying $500,000 in bribes to send their two daughters to the prestigious university. To better the two girls’ chances of acceptance, they were reportedly seen as “recruits” for the USC crew team. Where that becomes an issue is the fact both girls never trained to be a rower.
The court records show parents reportedly paying William “Rick” Singer a collective $25 million to improve chances of high school students into getting into prestigious colleges along with USC like UCLA, Texas, Yale, Stanford and Georgetown.
Labeled “Operation Varsity Blues,” parents allegedly paid between $15,000 and $6 million to better their child’s chances to get accepted into these universities. Along with the false claims of athleticism, Singer would reportedly t bribe SAT and ACT test proctors to change the answers of students’ tests, claim the student was battling a mental disability to allow the student to take the SAT or ACT in private or even bribe someone else to take the test for them.
As a former student-athlete, I feel insulted because it seems as though affluent communities led by company CEOs, actresses and fashion designers belittle the countless hours student-athletes spend trying to balance school and sports.
Being a student-athlete is a choice, and is seen to many outside of sports as a luxury but in reality, it isn’t all fun and games. Just like a student who doesn’t participate in sports, a student-athlete must complete their classes and then go spend hours in the gym or field — like a full time job — but a student athlete doesn’t get pay.
Although many student-athletes receive the benefit of a scholarship, not all student-athletes do. Some of the student-athletes do not get any scholarship money but greaten their chances of admission by the possibility to walk-on to said sports team.
I feel wronged by Loughlin and Giannulli because by scamming their children’s way into a university with a 13 percent acceptance rate by claiming they are athletes effectively took a spot from an actual recruited athlete.
Loughlin’s youngest daughter is a self-proclaimed social media influencer and in many of her own YouTube videos has claimed she wanted to go to college for sole purpose of parties and game day experiences.
It isn’t just the parents who are seen at fault for this massive scandal, coaches of universities are just as much to blame.
Senior Associate Athletic Director Donna Heinel and water polo coach Jovan Vavic are among two current Trojan staffers who are involved and have since been fired.
According to court documents, Vavic received $250,000 to designate two students as recruits for his historic water polo program for the school.
UCLA was also mentioned in the court documents with men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo who accepted money for two recruits — who never played competitively for the program.
In Southern California and even across the country, USC and UCLA are seen as prestigious schools to attend due to their locations and their legendary athletic programs. It is a common dream to attend these schools, myself included.
For the first time in seemingly forever, the Trojans are involved in a scandal that they didn’t instigate.
“The federal government has repeatedly informed us that it views USC as a victim and that these employees purposely deceive USC,” USC’s Interim President Wanda Austin said in an email to students on March 12.
With the Trojans athletic department head being former Trojan standout Lynn Swann, who had no previous experience in running an athletic department, who replaced fellow Trojan football legend Pat Haden, who left the school after a roster of controversy in his five years running the athletic department.
When you have such incompetent people ruling one of the most historic sports collegiate programs in the country, it’s no surprise to see so much corruption coming from not just the coaches and staff, it’s now even the parents.