College Bribery Scandal Surprises Everyone, Shocks No One

I was surprised-not-surprised when the FBI arrested 50 corporate executives, actors, and college coaches in a bribery and cheating scandal that has plagued eight elite universities.

It seems some Very Rich People paid bribes to get their kids into colleges they couldn't otherwise get into. They also cheated on entrance exams and even Photoshopped their kids' heads onto athletes' bodies to look like they played sports.

"What's this? Rich people have unduly used their influence to help their mediocre kids get ahead in life? When did this start happening?" said no one ever.

Last week, federal charges were filed against Very Rich Celebrities Lori Loughlin, her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, and Felicity Huffman, as well as Very Rich Executives like Robert Flaxman, CEO of Crown Realty & Development, and Robert Zangrillo, CEO of Dragon Global.

These five, along with 28 other Very Rich People, and several coaches and administrators, were arrested as part of "Operation Varsity Blues," the #CollegeCheatingScandal that has rocked the college athletics and admissions systems.


It made the rest of us shrug and say "Meh, what else is new?"

According to a Department of Justice press release, the Very Rich People paid "approximately $25 million to bribe coaches and university administrators to designate their children as purported athletic recruits, thereby facilitating the children's admission to those universities."

The money was given to William "Rick" Singer and his "charity," Key Worldwide Foundation. He would then pay bribes to whomever it took to admit these Very Mediocre Kids to schools they couldn't otherwise get into. Elite schools like Yale, USC, UCLA, University of Texas, and Georgetown have all admitted kids connected to the bribery scandal.

For example, Loughlin and Giannulli, allegedly paid $500,000 to have a USC associate athletic director designate their two Very Mediocre Daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella, as recruits of the crew team so they could take advantage of lower admission standards for athletes.

This is the same spoiled Olivia Jade who, last August, angered people when she said in a YouTube video, "I don’t know how much of school I’m gonna attend. . . But I do want the experience of like game days, partying. . . I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know."

I would have raised holy Hell if that had been my kid: "I'm not going to let you squander this opportunity I stole! Mommy and Daddy paid a lot of bribe money to get you into that school!"

Meanwhile, Singer pled guilty to four — yes, only four — counts of racketeering, money laundering, and obstruction of justice.

He is said to have bribed SAT/ACT proctors to change answers on tests, got doctors to write notes saying some students had learning disabilities so they could take more time on the test, and even got smart kids to take tests for the dumb kids.

The fallout has been swift and ferocious. The Hallmark Channel has cut all ties with Loughlin and will no longer produce her formula-driven movies. Olive Jade has lost her Instagram sponsorship with women's beauty brand, Sephora, because no amount of foundation can cover up the stains of dishonor and shame.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Coaches and administrators have been fired, and federal prosecutors are preparing for trials, but it shouldn't stop there.

The tainted universities' presidents, athletic directors, and admissions directors should resign for either being unaware that their coaches and administrators were accepting bribes, or because they created an environment where deceit and fraud was allowed to run rampant.

Of course, I don't believe any of these Very Rich A-Holes will actually go to jail. Paul Manafort's 47-month prison sentence for laundering $18 million makes me think they'll only get a few hours of community service and a stern talking-to.

I hope the Very Mediocre Kids are not only mortified at their families' deceit, but embarrassed they didn't actually earn their spots. Embarrassed that they were so unremarkable, their parents spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to give them something they hadn't earned and didn't deserve.

Each school has a waiting list of hopeful students. And there's one kid at the top of each list who didn't get in because some status-starved thief hijacked their spot. The Very Rich A-Holes owe those kids more than an apology, they owe reparations. They ruined lives, not only of their own kids, but of strangers and their families.

They deserve jail, but I predict they won't go. They deserve public shame, and they'll get it for a couple weeks, but they'll be back. They deserve our contempt, but they have their defenders.

For the rest of us who fight for our own accomplishments, be proud. Be proud that no one stole it for you, but you earned it yourself. Be proud that what you achieved is real, not something your parents had to cheat to get.

These kids will go through life thinking this is how things normally work. That they had the bad luck of getting caught this time. But they'll be back at it, because they'll never quit, they'll just learn how to lie, cheat, and steal better next time.

And we'll dance this stupid dance all over again, rolling our eyes, pretending to be outraged, but just a little sadder. Because we know better. We know this is how the world works, and we know we're the ones getting screwed.

Photo credit: Kiwiev (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 1.0)

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