Former USD basketball coach named in college admissions scandal

SAN DIEGO  -- The University of San Diego confirmed Wednesday that former head men's basketball coach Lamont Smith and two others connected to the school were implicated in what authorities have described as the largest-ever college admissions cheating scandal.

USD released the information after the U.S. Department of Justice modified its gag order on the school. The university did not release the names of the two other people involved in the scandal, but said one is a current student and the other a prospective student who was denied admission.

Smith left the university under fire in March 2018 after he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. The case was subsequently dropped, and Smith left USD to join the University of Texas-El Paso men's basketball team as an assistant coach.

UTEP Athletics released a statement Wednesday saying Smith had resigned from his post at the school:

“Earlier this afternoon, we were notified by the University of San Diego administration that Lamont Smith has been implicated in the nationwide college admissions bribery scandal. We have accepted Mr. Smith’s resignation, effective immediately, as assistant basketball coach at UTEP.”

USD did not disclose the extent to which Smith was allegedly involved in the scandal, which came to light March 12 with the filing of a 50-defendant federal indictment unsealed in Boston, pointing inquiries to the Department of Justice.

"We continue to have no reason to believe that any other employees, students or applicants were involved in or aware of any wrongdoing," the university said in a statement. "Certainly, if different or new information comes to our attention, either through the results of the investigation or otherwise, we will take appropriate action to respond."

University officials added that students who falsify or misrepresent themselves on an application can face sanctions of various levels, "up to and including expulsion."

But USD did not disclose what will happen to the current student implicated in the scandal, which has ensnared numerous wealthy and powerful residents of California and a half-dozen other states, including two Hollywood actresses, a fashion designer, a best-selling self-help author and the former CEO of a global investment firm.

Two San Diego residents who were also implicated in the scandal, Del Mar businessman Toby MacFarlane and former local CBS affiliate owner Elisabeth Kimmel, both had no comment on the allegations when approached Wednesday by reporters with CBS 8. MacFarlane and Kimmel are scheduled to appear in federal court in Boston on March 29.

The scheme, which began in 2011, centered on a Newport Beach college placement firm run by William "Rick" Singer, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges. The Justice Department investigation revealed a network of wealthy parents who funneled millions of dollars to Singer, who promised them that he could get their children into elite colleges and universities, including UCLA, USC, Stanford, Yale and Georgetown, by bribing test proctors and athletic coaches and fudging test scores.

The initial investigation report included charges against dozens of people, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Reports have suggested that the investigation remains in progress and federal investigators aim to expand it to further snuff out those attempting to game the college admissions system.

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