Wake Forest president addresses coach charged in cheating scandal, says ‘no reason to believe’ student knew

Wake Forest University (File, WGHP)

Wake Forest University (File, WGHP)

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch issued a new statement to the campus community after a Wake Forest coach was named among dozens others facing  racketeering charges or other charges in a cheating scandel, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

Wake Forest University’s Head Volleyball Coach Bill Ferguson was charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Wake Forest officials said Tuesday they are aware of allegations regarding Ferguson and had placed Ferguson on administrative leave.

Much of the indictment revolves around William Rick Singer, the founder of a for-profit college counseling and preparation business known as “The Key.”

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.

Hatch issued a new statement to the campus community addressing common questions he’s heard.

“These institutions were allegedly compromised by complicit coaches and others who worked with Singer for their own personal gain to influence the admission of the children of his clients,” Hatch wrote. “Unfortunately, Bill Ferguson is alleged to have been one of those coaches.”

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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