WFU Coach Charged In Admissions Scam Has Deep California Ties

WFU Coach Charged In Admissions Scam Has Deep California Ties

5:18pm Mar 14, 2019
Text from the federal indictment of "Operation Varsity Blues" released Tuesday. Screen capture courtesy: U.S. District Court, Massachusetts

Wake Forest University is the only Southeastern school caught up in a federal college admissions probe alleging that wealthy parents got their children falsely tagged as athletic recruits.

But there is a California connection between suspended Demon Deacon volleyball coach Bill Ferguson and the man at the center of the scandal.

Court documents don’t say how Ferguson may have been linked to Rick Singer, the California-based private admissions consultant who federal authorities allege is the mastermind behind the scheme. But if there is a connection, location might be a clue.

The University of Southern California took the biggest hit of all the colleges named in the indictment. Three coaches and an athletic administrator for USC were among those charged.

That’s a school Ferguson knew well. Prior to his time at Wake Forest, he spent nine seasons as head volleyball coach at the University of Southern California, leaving in 2015. He was also an assistant coach at Cal-State Los Angeles just before taking over the Deacon team.

None of the charges relate to his time at USC or Cal-State. Prosecutors say the colleges and students were typically unaware of the alleged scheme. Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch says the university had no knowledge of the scam and that outside legal counsel determined Ferguson acted independently.

The indictment alleges that in 2017 Singer - the man at the center of the investigation - directed $100,000 to be sent to Ferguson.

The money was split between the volleyball program, the Deacon Club, and a private camp Ferguson operated.

In exchange for the money, Ferguson agreed to designate the daughter of one of Singer’s clients as a recruit for the team. The student had applied and been “wait-listed.” Being tagged as an athletic recruit facilitated her admission to the university, according to court documents.

Ferguson took over the Wake Forest University volleyball program in 2016, replacing Ken Murczek, who resigned amid allegations of abuse made by former players.

Parents spent anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to guarantee their children's admission to various schools, officials said. Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were among the parents charged.

Copyright 2019 WFDD. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.
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