Sports: Test taker gets prison; coach convicted in admissions scam

Couple trying to move to Toronto warn of elaborate online rental scam in red-hot market

  Couple trying to move to Toronto warn of elaborate online rental scam in red-hot market An Oakville, Ont., couple want to warn other prospective renters about an elaborate rental scam they say is preying on those trying to find a quasi-affordable apartment in Toronto’s red-hot housing market.But the Oakville, Ont., couple quickly learned that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is — and they narrowly avoided losing $4,400 in first and last months' rent to an alleged scammer.

BOSTON (AP) — A former Florida prep school administrator was sentenced to federal prison and a decorated water polo coach at the University of Southern California was swiftly convicted by a jury in a busy Friday in Boston federal court in the long running college admissions bribery scandal.

  Test taker gets prison; coach convicted in admissions scam © Provided by The Canadian Press

Mark Riddell, who was paid handsomely to take college entrance exams for wealthy students, was handed a four-month prison sentence, ordered to serve two years of supervised release and forfeit nearly $240,000.

Meanwhile, former USC coach Jovan Vavic, who faked the athletic credentials of rich students so they could gain admission, was convicted on all three counts of fraud and bribery he faced after a jury deliberated less than a day following his nearly monthlong trial.

Boston University fires men's hockey head coach Albie O'Connell

  Boston University fires men's hockey head coach Albie O'Connell This is the first time in nearly 50 years that BU has fired its head men’s hockey coach.In some ways, this is a surprising move for the Terriers. O’Connell, 45, has deep ties to the university. He was a four-year starter for the team from 1995 to 1999, during which time they finished first in the Hockey East regular-season standings. As a sophomore, O’Connell helped lead the team to a conference championship and a run to the National Championship Game. As a senior, he took on the role of captain and led the team in scoring.

U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Rachael Rollins said the verdict in Vavic’s trial represents the final conviction in the headline grabbing case dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.”

The investigation announced in 2019 exposed corruption in the college admissions process at Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and other sought-after schools, and implicated wealthy and connected parents, including actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and Loughlin’s fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli.

“To say the conduct in this case was reprehensible is an understatement,” Rollins said afterward, acknowledging the sprawling investigation preceded her taking office earlier this year. “The rich, powerful and famous — dripping with privilege and entitlement — used their money and clout to steal college admissions spots from more qualified and deserving students.”

Duke basketball: Coach K's 42 Blue Devils teams, ranked: Which one is No. 1?

  Duke basketball: Coach K's 42 Blue Devils teams, ranked: Which one is No. 1? Mike Krzyzewski has won five titles and had 13 teams reach the Final Four. But he won't get into a debate on which of his teams ranks No. 1.“Just like I don’t rate my daughters or my grandchildren,” he said last week.

Joseph Bonavolonta, head of the FBI’s Boston office, said he hoped “many important lessons” were learned from the investigation and that colleges make sure the proper safeguards are in place.

“First and foremost, you can’t pay to play and lie and cheat to circumvent the college admissions process,” he said. “Because you will get caught.”

Vavic, a 60-year-old, who guided USC’s men’s and women’s water polo teams to 16 national championships, strode out of the courtroom Friday with his family, declining to comment on the verdict.

Prosecutors said he received about $250,000 in bribes for designating unqualified students as water polo recruits so they could attend the elite Los Angeles school.

But lawyers for Vavic argued he was just doing what he could to raise money for his dominant, championship-winning program as athletic officials had demanded. They maintained he never lied, never took a bribe and was a victim of USC’s desire to cover up a “pervasive culture” of accepting wealthy students who could provide donation windfalls.

Final Four winners and losers: UNC and first-year coach Hubert Davis riding high; Duke and Coach K face cruel exit

  Final Four winners and losers: UNC and first-year coach Hubert Davis riding high; Duke and Coach K face cruel exit Hubert Davis has a chance to become the first coach to win his first NCAA title in his first year. Kansas' Bill Self is going for his second title.But that was just the undercard to the main event: No. 2 Duke and No. 8 North Carolina in the first meeting between the two rivals in men's NCAA Tournament history.

The university, which fired Vavic after his 2019 arrest, has stressed its admissions processes are “not on trial.”

In a separate courtroom just minutes after Vavic's verdict was read, Riddell was contrite as he faced sentencing on fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges.

The Harvard graduate, who emerged as a key figure in the wide-ranging scandal, apologized to the many students that lost out on college opportunities because of his “terrible decision.”

He said he brought shame to his family and pleaded for leniency for cooperating with law enforcement officials and for committing to make amends now and going forward for his actions.

Riddell’s lawyers said he should serve one to two months in prison because he was neither the ringleader of the scheme nor a university insider, like the coaches and college administrators implicated. They also noted he’s already paid nearly $166,000 toward the forfeiture obligation.

Judge Nathaniel Gorton, however, sided with prosecutors who had argued for the four-month sentence.

He said Riddell played a key role for many years in the scheme by secretly taking the ACT and SAT for students, or correcting their answers.

“And for what?” the judge said. “You did not need the money. How could you have stooped so low?”

___

Associated Press reporter Mark Pratt in Boston contributed to this story.

Philip Marcelo, The Associated Press

On Jackie Robinson Day, remember Hilton Smith, who helped make Robinson possible .
You may not know the name Hilton Smith, but he's a key figure in baseball history. Smith helped Jackie Robinson break MLB's color barrier.Smith's career, without his connection to Robinson, was deserving of Cooperstown alone. The former Kansas City Monarchs right-hander, long overshadowed by another Monarchs righty named Satchel Paige, was posthumously inducted in 2001.

See also