By now, the college admissions scandal that was unveiled this past month has been well circulated in the media. It began with a man from Sacramento who created a multimillion dollar business that essentially got rich kids into prestigious colleges;.However, what may have slipped much of this media attention is the enormous role that sports, and sports recruitment, played in this scandal.
Let’s start from the beginning. Unfortunately, elite high school athletes often aren’t just competing for fun or because it’s their passion, but rather because they want to get recruited by a college. To be a recruited athlete means that the coach from the college wants you so badly on their team that they tell their college’s admissions office to give you preferential treatment. Basically, this means that your college application is viewed specifically as one of a recruited athlete. On top of that, the expectations of your academics are lowered. Your application is not compared to the thousands of other students’ applications, but is simply checking that you meet the minimal requirements communicated to you from your coach in order to gain acceptance. These requirements include the minimum GPA, test scores, and Advanced Placement (AP)classes you needed to take in order to get into the school. Requirements may vary from school to school, and coach to coach, but they can be extremely low or high depending on the prestige of the school and what division their athletics are in.
Division I schools such as the University of Oregon or University of California (UC) Berkeley do not require extremely high GPAs, SAT scores, etc. from their recruited athletes. However, highly selective Division III schools, such as Pomona, require extremely high scores on exams like the SAT, and make few accommodations for athletes. Likewise, prestigious schools such as Stanford require much higher scores than less selective colleges. Simply put, it is easier to get into a college if you are a recruited athlete.
William Singer, the mastermind behind the whole operation, figured this phenomena out and decided to use it to the advantage of wealthy families. Parents paid Singer millions of dollars to get their children into prestigious colleges, which included faking them being a recruited athlete. All over the country, college coaches were bribed hundreds of thousands of dollars to let wealthy, non-athletes pose as recruits in order to gain acceptance to schools. This happened at the University of Southern California (USC), Stanford, Yale, and UC Los Angeles (UCLA), all of which are some of the most acclaimed and prestigious schools in the country.
It is important to note that this is not a victimless crime. By letting these wealthy, fake athletes pose as recruits, schools had less spots for real athletes that worked incredibly hard their entire lives to get recruited. Athletes put thousands of hours of work and effort into a single sport in hopes that it will pay off one day in the form of college recruitment. To think that dozens of worthy athletes were denied or overlooked by a school because their spot had been filled by a fake athlete is shameful.
Thankfully, due to the college admissions scandal, thousands of recruits are being closely assessed to find out whether they are fake athletes. USC said it identified six “athletes” that were tied to the scandal and have rejected them all.
While this is a step towards a more equitable college admissions process, there is still a long way to go. The fact that in 2019 money can buy people’s way into a school is completely astounding, and highlights the inequality of college admissions. The fact that someone would actually use their wealth for this cause reflects the rising stress and insanity associated with the increasingly intense college admissions process that so many students struggle to overcome.