Wake Forest to redirect money from scandal-connected foundation to scholarship

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — After a coach was indicted in a nationwide bribery and cheating scheme, Wake Forest University plans to take clear steps toward healing by putting resources in promoting access, equity and belonging.

Wake Forest University's Head Volleyball Coach Bill Ferguson was charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering. He was among dozens facing  racketeering charges or other charges in a cheating scandal, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch sent out a message to the campus community Monday laying out the university's plans.

In the letter, Hatch writes that the university will redirect $50,000 that the Wake Forest received for the Key Worldwide Foundation, an organization implicated in the scheme, to the Magnolia Scholars program. This program supports first-generation college students.

Much of the indictment revolves around William Rick Singer, the founder of Key Worldwide Foundation, a for-profit college counseling and preparation business.

Singer allegedly paid college coaches to claim that a prospective student should be accepted to college as a recruit for their sports team. Singer and the coaches knew, however, that the student was not a competitive player and that their athletic profile was fake, the indictment said.

Wake Forest will also designate a lounge for the Black Student Alliance, redesign diversity education opportunities, incorporate unconscious bias training into student leader training, accelerate and expand work exploring the universities history "focusing in particular on slavery and its implications," make efforts toward diversifying the community and charge the director of athletics and dean of admissions with reviewing and fortifying the admissions process.

These actions aim to respond to challenges the community has given to the university's leadership.

"This scandal has provoked a full range of emotions around the country and on our campus and sparked a conversation about the fairness of college admissions processes," Hatch wrote. "I commit that Wake Forest will continue to invest the talent and resources of many to ensure the integrity of our admissions process and our institutional expectations for ethical conduct."

Since the news broke, the university president acknowledged that one student was admitted after being wait-listed.

"The student was admitted and is currently enrolled," Hatch wrote. "We have no reason to believe the student was aware of the alleged financial transaction."

Hatch added that the U.S. Department of Justice considers the university "a victim in this fraud" and that Furguson was the only employee accused of wrongdoing.

Athletic coaches from Yale, Stanford, USC, and Georgetown, among others, were also  implicated as well as parents and exam administrators, federal prosecutors said. The indictment accuses defendants of committing crimes between 2011 and 2019.

Lori Loughlin, best known for her role in the sitcom "Full House," and Felicity Huffman, best known for her role on TV's "Desperate Housewives," were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud.

The purpose of the alleged scam was to help student athletes get into college as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic ability, according to the indictment.

It alleges that a third party took the ACT and SAT college entrance exams in place of students. The documents also allege that some defendants created fake athletic profiles for students to make them appear to be successful athletes and get them into college.

The FBI's Boston office said on Twitter that dozens of people have been charged in the nationwide college admissions cheating and recruitment scandal.

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