Skip to content

USC and the College Admissions Scandal: Implicated Students Not Allowed to Dodge Investigation via Withdrawal

April 10, 2019

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are facing multiple charges associated with a massive college admissions scandal, including fraud and money laundering. Both appear unlikely to escape prison time.

Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly spent $500,000 to have their two daughters, Isabella and Olivia Giannulli, fraudulently admitted to the University of Southern California (USC) by passing the young women off as members of the university’s rowing team. Neither daughter has any experience in the sport. According to FBI wiretaps, Loughlin and Giannulli funneled $400,000 in the form of two $200,00 payments through a nonprofit and sent $100,000 in the form of two $50,000 payments to a USC coach. (See page 88 of this FBI key complaint for the details of the Loughlin-Giannulli emails and phone conversations related to the scam.)

It seems that one of the questions raised concerns whether USC allowed Isabella and Olivia Giannulli to withdraw from the university– a move that arguably could distance the Louiglin-Giannulli family from investigation by the university– and help the daughters dodge having a documented history of the fraudulent incident follow them if they apply to other colleges or universities in the future.

In a formal statement released on March 16, 2019, and updated several times since, USC said it would not allow any students associated with the scandal to withdraw until the university completes its review. Information about reviewing student status was added on April 08, 2019.

The full USC statement, with updates, is as follows:

USC Information on College Admissions Issue

April 8, 2019

On Tuesday, March 12, 2019, the U.S. Justice Department announced an ongoing investigation of a college admissions scheme that targeted several universities across the country, including USC.  This page provides information from USC about these issues and will be updated as new information becomes available.

What is USC doing in response to the alleged admissions scheme? 
We immediately terminated two employees associated with the allegations.  We also placed on leave a faculty member who was named in the federal indictment as a parent. This leave is a required procedural step in the process for evaluating the termination of tenured faculty. More employment actions may be possible as new facts come to light.

The university is conducting a full review of the matter and continues to cooperate with the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation. We are in the process of identifying donations that may have been received in connection with the alleged scheme and determining how to redirect those funds.

USC determined which applicants in the current admissions cycle are connected to the alleged scheme and they will be denied admission. A case-by-case review of current students who may be connected to the alleged scheme is also underway. We will make informed decisions about those cases as the reviews are completed.

We will take all necessary steps to safeguard the integrity of our admissions process and to ensure we conduct ourselves in a manner consistent with our values.

What is USC doing regarding students applying for fall 2019, those already enrolled and those who have graduated? 
USC determined which applicants in the current admissions cycle are connected to the alleged scheme and they will be denied admission. A case-by-case review of current students who may be connected to the alleged scheme is also underway. We will make informed decisions about those cases as the reviews are completed.

Update:

  • An internal investigation is continuing, including a thorough review of the student-athlete admissions process; we are continuing to update our procedures related to admissions review of student-athletes.
  • We are conducting a case-by-case review of any students who may be associated with the alleged admissions scheme.
  • USC has placed holds on the accounts of students who may be associated with the alleged admissions scheme; this prevents the students from registering for classes (until they have agreed to participate in the review of their case), withdrawing from the university, or acquiring transcripts while their cases are under review.
  • Among many factors investigators could consider in reviewing each case are any developments in the criminal cases, including plea deals by parents.
  • Following these case-by-case reviews, we will take the proper action related to each student’s status, up to revoking admission or expulsion.

Why isn’t USC identifying potential students, current students and graduates involved in the alleged scheme? 
USC, like other universities around the country, follows a federal law regarding the privacy of student records called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, often referred to as FERPA. According to FERPA, personally identifiable information in an education record may not be released without prior written consent from the student.

Do applicants need to sign some sort of attestation when they apply saying what is in their application is true? 
We use the Common Application’s attestation for all applicants. The common application includes an affirmation statement that all information is factually true and honestly presented.

The alleged admissions scheme involved fraudulent applications in which students’ academic and athletic ability were intentionally misrepresented to the university for the sole purpose of bypassing USC’s rigorous admissions process.

How much money was involved and what is USC going to do with it? 
We are in the process of identifying donations that may have been received in connection with the alleged scheme and determining how to redirect those funds.

***

Published: March 16, 2019
Updated: March 18, 2019 — Added details about holds placed on student accounts
Updated: March 27, 2019 — Clarified that account holds prevent students from withdrawing
Updated: April 3, 2019 — Added details about the review of student-athlete admissions process and procedures
Updated: April 8, 2019 — Added factors for consideration in reviewing student status

Withdrawal will be on USC’s terms, and those terms entail an internal investigation of those suspected of participating in a fradulent admissions process.

Loughlin and Giannuli wanted their daughters in USC. Well, they’re enrolled now, and there is no one to bribe for a withdrawal and subsequent coverup.

IMG_1472

Isabella and Olivia Giannulli

_________________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s